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Article From News From Bangladesh archives

Health, socio-economic condition worsened due to arsenic contamination

The speakers at a seminar held at Comilla Diabetic Hospital auditorium told that health and socio-economic problem from arsenic in drinking water have already worsened and have been assuming an alarming dimension with the passage of time. Identification of arsenic affected areas, appropriate alternative water supply options for drinking water supply in the affected areas, development of strategies and more investment programmes are needed to control arsenic problem in Bangladesh.

The day-long seminar "Arsenic Pollution in Bangladesh" organised by Comilla Rotary Club recently. Rtn PP Alhaj Md. Quadiruzzaman, Chief Engineer of DPHE spoke as key-note speaker. Rtn Md. Shahjahan Ali, District President RI District-3280 presided over the seminar. Rtn. Md. Habibur Rahman, Rtn. Abdul Ahad, Rtn. K.M. Jainul Abedin, District Governor Hasan Moniruzzaman, Rtn. Kazi Humayun Kabir, Rtn Advocate Golam Faruk, Rtn. AKM Shamsuddin and Rtn. Anup Bose were addressed, among others on the seminar.

The speakers opened that Arsenic contamination is a modern day catastrophe of Bangladesh. 59 out of 64 districts are now arsenic affected. Collective efforts of the private sector, NGOs along side the government is essential to mitigate arsenic contamination of groundwater.

They said that only with the efforts of all, awareness could be raised among the rural households about the arsenic problems. They also called upon the scientists and researchers to find out proper technological options for mitigating arsenic contamination in the country.

According to key-note speakers, considering the impact of arsenic contamination in hand pump tubewells DPHE started, as mentioned before, extensive sampling programme to identify arsenic problems areas through its zonal laboratories at Khulna, Rajshahi, Comilla and Mymensingh with assistance from UNICEF under TAPP programme.

Till January 1999, a total of 30,209 water samples were tested by DPHE in 61 districts where 7,192 samples have shown arsenic concentration more than the allowable limit (0.05 mg/1). According to this assessment 46-district are found affected in different intensities. Of them most affected district are 29 as: Pabna, Shatkhira, Narail, Madaripur, Comilla, Kishoregonj, Natore, Kushtia, Jessore, Shariatpur, Brahmanbaira, Sylhet, Nawabgonj, Meherpur, Faridpur, Laxmipur, Narayangonj, Sunamgonj, Bagerhat, Jhenidah, Rajbari, Noakhali, Munshigonj, Barisal, Khulna, Magura, Gopalgonj, Chandpur and Manikgonj.

13 districts have not yet shown concentration more that the acceptable limit.

Of the affected districts 11 district in which all thanas found arsenic affected.

According to Comilla DPHE a total of 1095 people under seven upazilas of Comilla, Chandpur, Brahmanbaria, Laxmipur and Moulavibazar district have passing their days amide arsenic menace. The DPHE said there are 71 per cent pump tubewells in the zone are more and less arsenic contaminated above 0.05% mg/1.

Delwar Hossain Patwary, Comilla Zonal Head told The Bangladesh Observer to mitigate the problem DPHE has taken up various steps.

He also noted that various alternate sources of water supply like Pond Sand Filter, Infiltration Galleries and Rain Water Harvesting would be promoted in the arsenic problem areas in Bangladesh. In this regard arsenic intervention activities are being carried out under a UNICEF assisted TAPP programme. The World Bank in cooperation with DPHE has launched a massive programme under the banner "Bangladesh Arsenic Mitigation Water Supply Project". The British Geological survey team with help of DPHE has been continuing their study to understand the mode of movement of arsenic in the aquifer and thus to identify the safer aquifer zones. ( The Bangladesh Observer )


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