Arsenic-laced water kills over one million in India’s Ganga basin -Kapil Kajal
Over thirty years since high levels of arsenic was found in groundwater in West Bengal, little has been done to avert a slow-burn health crisis
In the Indo-Gangetic plains, there are many widow-villages where the men have died from drinking water laced with arsenic. Women often come to the area to marry and so are only affected later in life. In India, over one million people have died in the last 30 years because of the presence of arsenic in drinking water, according to Saurabh Singh, founder of the Inner Voice Foundation (IVF), an organisation that works to address arsenic water contamination.
Arsenic occurs naturally in groundwater supplies of the Ganga basin, as well as coming from industrial pollution and mining. This affects an estimated 50 million people in India alone, as well as people in parts of Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet. In some places arsenic levels reach over 300 times the safe levels prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Arsenic also seeps into irrigation water and crops as the situation is made worse by over extraction of groundwater.
This has wreaked havoc in the villages of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Millions of people living in the villages along the Ganga are suffering from skin lesions, ailments of kidney, liver and heart, neurological disorders, stillbirth and cancer associated with long term consumption of arsenic found in water coming from handpumps and even in piped water.
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TheThirdPole.net, 27 October, 2020, https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/10/27/arsenic-laced-water-kills-over-one-million-in-indias-ganga-basin/