According to locals, as many as 23 people have died since 2018, when the matter was first reported. Some locals say the toll could be higher. At 23, the deaths are nearly 1% of the village’s population.
In 2018, the district administration had taken all the steps including checking the water sources which were found fit for drinking.
A number of patients are undergoing treatment too. Yet, despite all measures to check the cause, including any possible water contamination, the deaths and disease continue, admit officials.
The matter was first raised by a pathologist, Ajay Rathore who has a lab in Ner taluka close by. In 2018, 14 persons had died in the village. Rathore says after a lull in 2020 people again started developing kidney troubles. A 45-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman have died this month. Both were undergoing kidney treatment. “So far, 23 have died,” says Rathore as he names some of the patients undergoing treatment.
A source in the village said that post 2018, the government had set up a water purification plant at the village but not more than 20% of the residents use it. “They have to pay around ₹5 per container for the pure water. Instead they prefer the direct supply through borewell,” the source said.
On Thursday, the district health officer (DHO) Dr PS Chavan visited the village. Chavan told TOI that since 2018 water samples have been taken every six months. “If found unfit such as having fluoride content, the sources are closed. Yet the diseases continues. A further probe will be taken up,” Chavan said.
Yavatmal district collector Amol Yedge confirmed the two deaths saying that the matter will be investigated. He said similar complaints were raised from some other villages too where water samples were checked “but no impurity was found”.
Congress neta Devanand Pawar, who had brought a team of doctors to the village, says that the issue remains neglected after 2018 “when the intensity was so much that doctors referred it as Asola disease”. “The root cause needs to be probed. It was because of Asola, the Government Medical College at Yavatmal got 12 dialysis machines,” he said.
Yavatmal GMC has the highest number of dialysis machines in the state, and are being used to full capacity. Currently, 50 patients are on regular dialysis, which is the last step before transplantation. “The only free facility is at GMC Yavatmal and patients from remote villages often find it difficult to reach,” said sources in the GMC.