There was a time when families living in the border villages of Punjab had to routinely migrate to safe places whenever tension with Pakistan aggravated.
Today people living in the villages are facing a new danger --death due to contaminated water.
Over 200,000 people in more than 200 villages of Punjab's Khamkaran sector are facing this danger. The water in the area is not only undrinkable but also dangerous for health.
The water has excess quantities of fluoride that causes loss of teeth, arthritis and many other problems.
The requests made to higher authorities for clean drinking water, have fallen on deaf ears.
Dr. Parminder Singh of a government hospital says he has come across many patients with mild to chronic teeth problems, which have occurred due to intake of drinking water with excess fluoride. One estimate is that the fluoride content in the ground water here is over one PPM (part per million).
The solution suggested to the people is -do not drink water available on the surface. Dig 400 feet deep.
Sajjan Singh, a resident of Asal Uttar Village, who is soon going to be toothless, literally, says: "We are unable to afford submersible pumps to lift drinkable water from such a depth. We are compelled to drink contaminated water".
Gurjant Singh, of Sarja Mirza , another border village says:"All residents of this village have to travel up to two kilometers for sweet drinking water from a hand pump, as the ground water in this village tastes bitter."
Simranjit Kaur, another resident of Sarja Mirza , says that everyday she has to get two to three pitchers filled from this only installed hand-pump, located outside their village.
"Why do political leaders forget their voters after every elections?," asked Simranjit Kaur.
Sukhchian Singh of Khemkaran Sector said that except for his name he has no Sukh (happiness) or Chain (solace) as he has been suffering from arthritis due to drinking contaminated water.
He says many of the border villagers have died due to jaundice. But no official has paid any attention. "Be it the Akali leaders or the ones from Congress party, no government has cared to tackle our basic problems", he added.
Bikram Singh Majithia, the State minister for Irrigation and Water supply, however, insists that he had issued orders asking officials to find out the details and that his government would pay special attention to solve the problem as early as possible.
How early. Wait for the next elections!