Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national president and opposition leader in Andhra Pradesh demanded the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-government to remove the “fear of uncertainty” hovering over Eluru that saw hundreds fall sick and several succumb to a mysterious illness over the past few days.
Naidu demanded that Chief Minister Reddy must disclose the results of tests held till date to uncover the reasons behind the illness in West Godavari district headquarters.
“There were rising fears over the presence of heavy metals like lead and nickel in the drinking water. The government should immediately address these concerns and ensure proper drinking water supply through mobile mineral water plants and such measures,” a statement by Naidu said.
He highlighted that the presence of heavy metals would cause serious impact on the health of pregnant women, children and aged people.
“Hence, every resident in the town should be given electronic health cards. Every patient should be monitored on a long-term basis. The best medical care should be provided with the help of national and international medical experts,” he exhorted.
Naidu called for a scientific study of Eluru illness to find out the root cause, even as he demanded to declare ‘health emergency’ to instil confidence among people and patients.
“Clean drinking water was every citizen’s right and it was the duty of the government. The Supreme Court had upheld the right to water as a fundamental right. Article 21 of the Constitution also ensures the same,” said the TDP supremo.
He claimed that Andhra government “unfortunately failed to ensure protected drinking water and proper sanitation”.
Naidu said that the symptoms were changing each day with panic gripping the residents of Eluru. The government has not even opened a helpline for the victims yet, Naidu claimed.
“A ‘special control room’ should be set up immediately. The best medical care should be provided to all those patients who have similar symptoms like fits, frothing, fatigue. ‘Quick response teams’ should be formed. There was a need for an urgent relief and assistance mechanism,” asserted Naidu.
He also demanded the immediate provision of health and life insurance for every Eluru patient, including cleaning water tanks and drinking water sources in all towns, villages and cities across the southern state.
Naidu demanded that drinking water samples should be tested periodically, along with special drives on safe drinking water supplies to prevent Eluru-like incidents.
“All focus should be on sanitation and cleanliness of water bodies, reservoirs, tanks, drinking water pipelines, water taps and so on… There has to be rebuilding of trust among the people in Eluru and in all other parts of the state,” he said.
Though West Godavari district is blessed with the abundance of Godavari river water, successive governments and officials neglected and failed to provide filtered drinking water to many villages, leaving people to make do with muddy water, experts say.