Bengal’s nearly all arsenic-free water plants not working

Kolkata, June 16 (IANS) An overwhelming majority of the technologies deployed to provide arsenic-free water in West Bengal have become non-functional within a year of installation due to lack of a sustainable model, experts said here.

West Bengal is one of the worst-hit states in India in terms of arsenic contamination of water resources.

“Around 95 percent of technologies have failed within six months to one year of installation. They do not function after a certain time. Though people are aware about the toxic effects of arsenic, they do not have access to arsenic-free water,” said Joyashree Roy, professor at Jadavpur University and coordinator, Global Change Programme, on Monday evening.

She said the reason for the non-performance of these technologies after a period of time is lack of maintenance and technical know-how.

Roy was speaking at the launch of the Bengali book ‘Arsenic in Water: Context West Bengal’ authored by her and Abhijit Das, professor at Jadavpur University.

The book uniquely addresses the problem of arsenic contamination in ground water in West Bengal and its socio-economic implications while exploring a sustainable way forward. It is based on more than a decade-long research on the subject in Bengal.

Consumption of arsenic-contaminated water beyond World Health Organisation (WHO) permissible limit has very serious health implications.

According to WHO, drinking arsenic-rich water over a long period results in various health hazards, including skin problems, skin cancer, bladder cancer, kidney and lung cancer, besides other diseases.

In West Bengal, districts of North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas, Malda and Nadia are the worst affected. Arsenic was first detected in water in 1983 in Bengal, the authors said.

The researchers also highlighted that residents in the age group of 20 to 40 years suffered the most due to arsenic contamination.

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