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29 Dec 1999 message from Dipankar Chakraborti

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 ug/l 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 concerned.

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 Orphans Webpage 

Who should we blame for their plight?

Yours sincerely,

Director and Head School of Environmental Studies 
Jadavpur University Calcutta - 700 032 India 
Tel: 91 33 473 5233 
Fax: 91 33 473 4266 


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