Sixty-eight-year-old Himanshu Chakrabarty of Brahman Tola village in Ghadbad panchayat of Dhanbad has only one desire death. For more than 15 years, he has suffered from weak and deformed bones with almost no flesh on his body, limping around like a living skeleton. A patient of a crippling disease called fluorosis, which caused due to an excess intake of fluoride, Chakrabarty wants an end to his suffering. I only want death, he cries out in pain. How much more do I have to suffer?

Chakrabarty isnt the only one suffering in Brahman Tola. Each of the 68 households in our hamlet has at least one patient suffering from fluorosis, resident Rajit Thakur told VillageSquare.in. Almost 60% men and over 75% women of the tola are affected by the disease in some form or the other.

Fifty-year-old Savitri Mukherjee, a widow, lives alone and cannot walk with her spine straight. It started with pain in my shoulders, back and knees. But, for the last five years, I am walking with a bent back, said Savitri. If I fall on the ground, I cannot get up on my own. I cannot sleep straight on the bed. Its been five years since I have seen the sky (with back always bent downwards). There are several women like me.

The common thread tying all the residents of Brahman Tola with a single disease fluorosis is their drinking water. The groundwater of Brahman Tola and its neighboring villages in Ghadbad and Birsinghpur panchayats of Baliapur block is laced with high fluoride. Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for these villages, which depend on hand pump and dug well to meet their daily water needs, Eklavya Prasad, managing trustee of Megh Pyne Abhiyan or MPA, a non-profit working on water and sanitation issues, told VillageSquare.in.

High fluoride in groundw...