Supebeda, in Gariaband district on Chhattisgarh’s border with Odisha is a village where 1 out of 10 residents are plagued by kidney failures and government records suggest that 54 villagers have died between 2009 and 2017 due to kidney malfunctions, reports The Indian Express. The youngest to have died last year was 16 while the oldest was 62 years old and the villagers argue that the number may rise to 70 as many are suffering from the ailment. A survey carried out by a team led by the head of nephrology in the Bhimrao Ambedkar Hospital in Raipur found that among the 2000 villagers residing there as many as 223 are suffering from kidney failure. The villagers who are suffering from kidney failure don’t have the means to treat their ailments in a hospital and are surviving on ayurvedic medicine. Only recently, due to voices raised by the opposition has it attracted research teams from Raipur and ICMR in Delhi.
According to a report by The Indian Express, in a letter by the district’s chief medical officer (CMO) stated that 20 water and soil samples were taken and the levels of chromium and cadmium were found to be over acceptable levels. In another report filed by the soil science and agricultural chemistry of the Indira Gandhi Krishi Vidyalaya, Raipur stated that permissible limits of nickel, cadmium, chromium and lead metals analysed were found higher than permitted by World Health Organisation (WHO) and in some samples higher levels of zinc were also detected.
While officials are puzzled as to what the cause behind the kidney failures are, but they are assuming that the role of so many heavy metals in water may well have a part to play. To mitigate the situation, government health officials have decided to install a RO system that will filter the heavy metals out and have already closed several borewells where high levels of metals were detected. The government has also set up a special ward at Ambedkar hospital which is 250 kms away and health minister Ajay Chandrakar has announced Rs 20,000 for every family of the 54 villagers who have died.