Article From News From Bangladesh archives
BARISAL, June 3: About 50 lakh people are exposed to arsenic contamination in 11 districts of the southern region of the country.
A total of 19 persons died of arsenic-related diseases during the last 10 years in Barisal region. Of the total 17 died at village Shapania in Barisal Sadar upazila, one died at Agarpur village in Babuganj upazila and one died at village Rajihar in Agoiljhara upazila of Barisal district.
After the coverage of news stories on arsenic in different daily newspapers, including The Independent in 1998, the PHED and NGO Forum started examining the waters of the tubewells. Mohammad Abdul Bari, officer of arsenic sector of Barisal PHED, told this correspondent that his department examined waters of 5,582 deep tubewells and 21,126 shallow tubewells in Gournadi, Uzirpur, Banaripara, Agoiljhara, Bhandaria and Jhalakathi Sadar upazilas recently.
Waters of 20 deep tubewells out of 655, 3,634 shallow tubewells out of 3,714 in Agoiljhara upazila of Barisal district, 29 deep tubewells out of 1,290 and 4,795 shallow tubewells out of 6,248 in Uzirpur upazila, two deep tubewells out of 404 and 1,611 shallow tubewells out of 4,021 in Bhandaria upazila, 21 deep tubewells out of 1,685 and 2,028 shallow tubewells out of 3,098 in Jhalakathi Sadar upazila, 1,362 shallow tubewells out of 1,641 in Gournadi upazila and 2,005 shallow tubewells out of 2,377 in Banaripara upazila of Barisal district are arsenic polluted.
PHED found the highest 1.7 milligrams of arsenic in the per litre water in some areas of these thanas while the permissible level of arsenic in water is 0.05 milligrams per litre. The department also found a total of 537 new arsenic patients in these areas. Shahabuddin Ahmed, Asst Regional co-ordinator of NGO Forum, told this correspondent that his organisation examined waters of 448 shallow tubewells in 66 villages of all the 10 upazilas of Barisal district and found 91 per cent of these tubewells arsenic polluted.
A team of NGO Forum also found nine more arsenic patients at village Balia in Mehendiganj upazila of the district recently. They were identified as Mahmuda Begum (38), Rahima Begum (32), Begum Hossain (18), Shahinur Begum (23), Begumzan Bibi (42), Rehana Begum (38), Mahfuza Begum (20), Razia Begum (20) and Rafiqul Islam (32).
People of the arsenic affected villages criticised the role of Civil Surgeon's office on this issue. ( The Independent )
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