Water-Borne disease increases as Lakes at Shiggaon have become pool of Algae.
“I am suffering from diarrhea for the second consecutive time after two months, says 24-year-old wall painter Goushmuddin Megalur. I suffered from severe diarrhea two months back as well due to which I lost my appetite completely and I had to go to the loo frequently”.
He continues to say, “I earn 400 per day for my labor work in fact sometimes lesser than this so, it becomes difficult for me to get medication every time.
The doctor advised not to have contaminated food or drink water so I stopped fetching water directly from Naganur Kere and started having purified water though it becomes financially heavy for me to get water.
Whenever I had work located nearby lake, I would sit beside Naganur Kere and have my lunch cooked by my wife Nafisa. Goushmuddin does not recall the outbreak of diarrhea in past few years among his family members. And although he cannot be sure, he thinks that he fell sick because of consuming water directly from Naganur kere during his working hours. After doctor’s instruction, he stopped drinking water from the lake and started using purified water supplied by water supply board every week.
However, two months after recovery from constant dehydration for 2 weeks I suffered from diarrhea yet again and I have been admitted since yesterday, he said. I was feeling weak from past three days, had loose stool as well so I visited the doctor then he told that I have diarrhea again”.
Ever since humankind has existed, defecating in open space took place. With the increase in population, the release of human waste elevated too. It never caused problems but with a hike in the absorption of human feces and garbage by earth has troubled people in their health.
Chandrupujar, executive officer of taluk panchayat, Shiggaon says, “government is aiming at establishing 100 percent sanitation under the scheme Swach Bharat Abhiyan. Each house is provided with 12 thousand and ST/SC people would be given 15 thousand for the construction of toilets. However, still, 40 percent of the people do not prefer toilets and uses agricultural lands and water banks for their defecation.
Every month seminars are conducted to educate villagers on maintaining sanitation but once seminar gets over, villagers would go back to their old way of using dirty water and defecating in fields. Youngsters and middle-aged people seem to take sanitation seriously but senior citizens do not hold on to the guidelines”.
Shubha, a 52-year-old housewife admitted in hospital due to diarrhea along with her husband who is a farmer, says since she is used to defecating in open space she uses fields nearby as toilet despite having a toilet at their home provided by the government. Every morning, “I would run to the fields for defecation”, she says.
Subha’s husband Chandrashekharaiyya says, “I and my wife were ill from past two-three days, so consumed homemade medicinal remedy of ginger water to get rid of fever. Initially, we thought it was just a normal fever and did not bother going to the hospital for a check-up but gradually increasing fever ignited tension in us, so went to the hospital. After several tests, it was discovered that we have been suffering from diarrhea”.
He says, even he goes to fields for defecation but not as regularly as his wife does when he was asked if he maintains sanitation and uses toilets instead of open fields. Also, they fetch water from their tube well when asked about the source of water for their domestic use. He says, “Everyone in my family drinks water directly from tube well including me without purifying. Tube well’s water is used for cooking, washing, and bathing every day”.
He was asked if they use halogen tablets that is available for free of cost and R.O water plants, which can be bought for Rs 5 per 5 liters of water in villages he says, initially they bought but after two-three months whenever they went to get halogen tablets, it would go out of stock from medical stores, it was never available and to get water from R.O plants, they have to travel 5 km from their village called Baad. It becomes difficult for them to carry water tanks since they do not have their own vehicle.
Halogen tablets are used for purifying water for easy consumption and reduce its possibility of affecting the health of an individual.
Maulali, a 14-year-old boy has been admitted to Shiggaon government hospital from past 2 days due to diarrhea. He has been suffering from fever and abdominal pain so, he was brought to the hospital.
When his family was questioned about the sanitation maintenance at home, his father said that they get water from water supply board twice a week for domestic use. They never thought it would harm anyone since; it is purified before supplying it to houses in Shiggaon.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi aims at bringing open defecation to the end by constructing 100 million toilets in villages by 2019. Therefore, he has allotted $40 Billion for building latrines across India and change behavior towards cleanliness. World Bank has provided with $1.5 billion loans in upgrading the sanitation status in India.
However, water borne disease rises in the year 2017 compared to the year 2016. Total 12,936 people were detected of waterborne disease in the year 2017 and 10,370 in the year 2016 according to Shiggaon Government hospital.
Shiggaon taluka in Haveri district located in the northern part of Karnataka State with a total population of 2,04,835, people suffer from water-borne disease despite several measures like; conducting Information Education and Communication (IEC) programs to approach villagers and change or reinforce health-related behaviors concerning sanitation and other problems. Under this program villagers are given training on how to maintain sanitation, drinking water fetched from Total 579 bore wells, 128 overhead tanks, 584 mini tanks that have been set up across taluk and consume once it is purified, 60 R.O plants have been set up across taluk to avail clean potable drinking water for Rs 10 per 5 liters of water in town and Rs 5 per 5 liters of water in villages, also halogen tablets are given for free of cost to villagers in order to purify tank waters for drinking.
Dr. Pravin Kumar, MBBS (Medicine Specialist) at Shiggaon Government hospital says, “Information Education and Communication is conducted every two months across Shiggaon where villagers are trained how to change their attitude towards sanitation and maintain proper hygiene when it comes to water and toilet. But villagers do not show much interest in attending the seminar. Every time seminar is conducted only a few people attend, that’s why it becomes difficult to convey the message to villagers.
Up to some extent, people have started maintaining cleanliness but still suffer from waterborne diseases like diarrhea, cholera, dysentery and skin allergies”.
Other reasons behind water borne disease
Pollution of the only source of water in the village:
The Varada River originates from Vardamoola in Sagara taluk which is located 6 km from Sagara in Shimoga district and passes through Banavasi in the Western Ghats. Followed by entering the central districts of Karnataka-Haveri and Ballary. The place is also called as Theertha grama (Holy water village). Varada River joins the Tungabhadra River near Galaganath village in Haveri district and flows as streams through small valleys of Western Ghats, and widens in Haveri district. The Varada river water plays a vital role in the supply of drinking, domestic and also for agriculture for the people living in Haveri. Varada River is the major drinking water source for the people of Haveri town and nearby villages; Naganur Kere Lake is one of those extensions of the river which is the source of drinking water in Shiggaon taluk. Under new experiment by MLA Basavaraj Bommai, lake filling project, water gets pumped from Varada River to around 20 lakes in Shiggaon. And it has been proved that Varada river has been polluted.
Varada River in Sagara has undergone deforestation by 45.2 per cent to 34.5 per cent from past four decades due to an increase in horticultural activities by 10.9 per cent to 18.5 per cent. This has resulted in high soil erosion, weed infestation, poor hydrology and poor associated faunal diversities. As soil erosion increases accumulation of plants and washed off soils by the riverside can also, elevate which can ultimately create huge problems. Riverbank forests are endangered due to high accumulation of biomass and higher concentrations of carbon.
Release of detergents by people:
People take bath and wash clothes in the lakes and rivers, ultimately detergents gets released into the water that can affect human body.
Misconception about R.O Plants:
Villagers have a misconception about consuming water from R.O plants. They believe it gives them body pain whenever consumed from R.O plant, so they do not prefer R.O water and instead consume water directly from a tank or bore wells.
Gulab Shab, 48-year-old auto driver says, till today he never got notified about seminar whenever it happened, also he says that he feels like he gets body pain every time he drank water from R.O plants.
A study conducted by Professors of Botany Department, E.B Sedamkar and B Vasanthkumar from G H College, HAVERI on physicochemical (action of physical and chemical processes together) and Biological factors. The physicochemical factors have a major role on the growth of micro-organisms in the lotic ecosystem (water ecosystem) and it has been detected that a large number of phytoplanktons (algae) belonging to several categories were recorded. They have shown variation in their periodicity which depends on the availability of various nutrients. And it has been proved that this is one of the reasons behind pollution of Varada River.
The types of organisms which were found more than the required amount in the river and can cause harm to human bodies are:
Low in nutrients like Nitrate and Phosphate and high dissolved oxygen are responsible for the formation of such algae beyond the required amounts. These organisms were found in huge quantity during the northeast monsoon.
These organisms were found higher in number during south-west monsoon followed by northeast monsoon and summer. It occurs when chemicals like phosphate and nitrate are high in concentration, high temperature, and dissolved oxygen.
This organism is also called blue-green algae because of its color and it is found more during summer and the south-west monsoon. It occurs due to high dissolved oxygen and temperature.
A high amount of euglenophyceae occurs due to the high concentration of carbon dioxide, high temperature and maximum were found in the summer season and minimum in the south-west monsoon.
These different types of Algae form a thick layer on the surface of the water and can accumulate downwind which gets blown by the shore, close to human being, plants and domestic animals.
Increase in the number of toxic algae in the water bodies can increase the biotoxin (a substance released by organisms which are toxic and have a biological origin) they produce which is harmful for human as they can cause human illnesses such as gastroenteritis and lung irritation and skin allergies. Consumption of such harmful biotoxin can also, result in severe illness and ultimately death to animals.
If biotoxin is transferred into the irrigation water, it can affect plant’s photosynthesis, it reduces the growth of the plants also; harm fish and amphibians as well.
The most heinous feature about these organisms is not just affecting human liver or nervous system. These organisms can persist in water as they are immune to both hot and cold water. They do not get destroyed even after boiling.
Dr. Malatesh Pampannavar, MBBS at HK Hospital Kengeri says people do not maintain sanitation when it comes to water. They do not boil before drinking, also consume directly from tanks, especially people in villages.
Information Education and Communication seem to be doing well since; it goes to villages and spreads awareness about cleanliness. Not just in villages but also, lessons on hygiene should be given in schools and colleges as well.