Arsenic Poisoning in West Bengal : Betai Report



How politics and politicians are playing with life of the villagers in arsenic affected villages

The villagers of Betai came to know from local leader that government tap-water supply would be in near future to the area as government had already sanctioned money. Thus villagers told that they would get water at free of cost, so they are least interested to pay Rs. 5/- per month in community participation project. It is our findings that many piped water supply schemes are arsenic contaminated in arsenic affected areas of West Bengal but villagers do not understand that and government hides the truth and do not initiate projects with peoples participation for safe water

Mr. Nitai Biswas is Savadhipati of Tehatta Block. Mr. Biswas is popular in the area and knows about the arsenic problem of Tehatta Block . According to Mr. Netai Biswas, government of West Bengal sanctioned Rs. 1 crore and Rs. 5.0 lakhs for piped water supply to arsenic affected villages in Tehatta in 1998. The pity till 21st May 2000 Mr. Netai Biswas could not implement the project as clearance was not given. Mr. Netai Biswas further told me that on 18th February 2000, Minister Mr. Gautam Deb, Chief Arsenic Engineer of PHED Mr. Ashesh Ray and Mr. Netai Biswas sat in SURAVI Guest House of Bardhaman and minister Mr. Goutom Deb took the initiative and wanted to implement the project. The pity although minister of PHED himself wanted to implement the project but till 21st May nothing done. My question whether politicians will play with life of villagers for politics.


In village predominant India and Bangladesh even a highly successful technology may not succeed in rural areas unless it fits in the rural circumstances and is well accepted by the rural mass. Development of such technology is only possible when a combination is made between technocrats and villagers with proper village level participation.

For West Bengal-India and Bangladesh, the actual solution of water would be achieved through proper watershed management utilizing our available surface water. Per capita available surface water of Bangladesh alone is 11000 m3 the second highest in the world. For West Bengal wet land alone is 4000 km2. In these two countries rain water, surface water, flooded river basins, Ox-Bow lakes are plenty. In this millennium when technology is known and scientists, technologists are making potable water from wastewater why should we neglect our vast available surface water resource and opt for groundwater- a source for our natural balance.


Sl.No Place Type of Unit Arsenic concentration in µg/l
  Raw 04/07/99 10.08.99 02.02.2000 20.02.2000 15.04.2000 07.05.2000 21.05.2000
1 Ashram CampusBetai, Dangapara, Caretaker: Ram Krishna7 Amity User 500 B.E. College 0.170 <0.003 0.131 <0.003 <0.003 <0.003 0.121 Not functioning
2 Itkhola Para, Betai, Caretaker: Khitish Chandra AdhikariUser: 60 families B.E. College 0.122 <0.003 <0.003 <0.003 <0.003 <0.003 <0.003 <0.003
3 B.R. Ambedkar College, Betai, Caretaker: Prof. M.C. MoulickUser: 100 families B.E. College 0.327 0.056 <0.003 <0.003 <0.003 Not functioning <0.003 0.035
4 Kharermath (Purba), JitpurCaretaker: Mangal Biswas,User: 50 famlies B.E. College 0.235 Not functioning 0.187 0.069 0.012 Not functioning Not functioning Not functioning
5** Jitpur (Tabu para)Caretaker: Dilip Poddar, User: 60 families AIIHPH 0.051 0.045 Not functioning Not functioning 0.006 0.005 <0.003 Not functioning
6 Haripur (Chitka), BetaiCaretaker : family user 300 AIIHPH 0.463 Not functioning Not functioning Not functioning Not functioning 0.052 0.092 0.035
7 Muktadaha Para, BetaiCaretaker: Jitendra Ghosh,User:150 families AIIHPH 0.149 Not functioning Not functioning Not functioning 0.024 0.043 0.088 0.081