We have reached the end of one millenium and the beginning of another. But
does this historic point in time mean anything to those suffering from arsenic
toxicity in West Bengal and Bangladesh?
During our December, 1999 field camp in Karimpur block, Nadia district we have
found many new villages like Koritola Uttarpara of Mahishbathan, Karimpur-2,
Golabari, Mianpara in Karimpur-1 where thousands are drinking contaminated
water, the highest arsenic concentration recorded by us is 900 ug/l. In Mianpara
children below 11 years are also affected. People in these villages were not
aware that they are suffering from arsenic toxicity.
Even now, in Seladi village of Senbagh Thana Noakhali District of Bangladesh
72 out of 73 hand tubewells have arsenic levels above the WHO maximum
permissible limit (50 ug/l) and 21 contain arsenic to the extent of 1000
with highest concentration being recorded 4000 ug/l. Yet, many are drinking
contaminated water. In all probability this is the most arsenic contaminated
village in the world as far as arsenic contamination of ground water is
Every time we go for field survey we identify more and more arsenic affected
villages in W. Bengal and Bangladesh. We have now available evidence that in
some districts arsenic contamination in ground water is increasing. Many
tube-wells we colored green (safe to drink) are now arsenic contaminated. We
have also found in our cohort study that out of those villagers who were
identified suffering seriously from arsenical skin lesions many died at early
age and many are still suffering. Six out of the nine arsenic patients present
in our international conference in Calcutta of February 1995 have died, and,
three (Makhan Pal, Govinda Roy and Sephali Roy) died of cancer at an early age.
Please visit the Arsenic
Who should we blame for their plight?
Director and Head School of Environmental Studies
Jadavpur University Calcutta - 700 032 India
Tel: 91 33 473 5233
Fax: 91 33 473 4266