West Bengal || Bangladesh
Middle Ganga Plain, Bihar ||
27 days detailed field survey information from April 1999 to February, 2000
Field Survey: 1st October 1999 (District Meherpur)
In Chatian village of P.S. Gangni, district Meherpur, we came across a poor family. Ersad Ali (M/50) was the head of family and is seriously affected by arsenic. One of his legs had been amputated because of cancer (Photograph-22). Ersad Ali's son, Bajhur Rahaman (M/33), is also seriously affected and has a non-healing ulcer on left hand's small finger (Photograph-23). Out of 10 member of Ersad Ali's family 7 have arsenical skin lesions including a child, Milton (M/10). There is no deep tubewell in the area and they also do not know which tubewell is safe to drink from. I asked them why they do not fetch water from the nearby tubewell belonging to a family whose members had no skin lesions. What Ersad Ali said was shocking. He told me, "The government knows my condition and promised me that a deep tubewell will be installed near my home, but till today they have not done it." Ersad Ali further murmured, "I may die but will drink this water until a deep tubewell is installed." The arsenic content in Ersad Ali's tubewell is 0.37 µg/l.
Field Survey: 2nd October 1999 (District Meherpur)
We have reported above (October 1, 1999) about the family of Islampur village in Kustia district where we surveyed an entire family of 28 people with ages ranging from 5 to 80 years and found 18 adults had arsenical skin lesions. The youngest victim is 14. The family is well to do and get nutritious food. In Bagoan- Kagipara, P.S. Meherpur we also got a poor family of 22 members in the age range of 6 to 60, and out of them 21 have arsenical skin lesions and the severity of skin lesions much higher than the Islampur population. Six children out of seven below 11 were found to have arsenical skin lesions. The arsenic concentration in drinking water of the Bagoan-Kagipara family was 0.69 µg/l. The family is very poor (Photograph-24). Most of its members have vitamin deficiency. We had also compared daily food intake and it appears that due to the poor nutrition status of this family its members are more affected compared to the Molla family of Islampur, Kustia. During our field survey in West Bengal, India and Bangladesh we had noticed many cases where poor people suffering with arsenical skin lesions but drinking almost same concentration of arsenic contaminated water for people getting better nutrition are not suffering.
In village Dhaolmari of district & P.S Meherpur, we met Lucus Biswas (M/36) a serious arsenic patient, whose one finger has been amputated (Photograph-25). Mr. Lucus Biswas said that within one year after the installation of his tubewell in 1984, he started getting blacking joints on his hand and leg, and within 2 years started getting skin lesions. In 1997, he came to know his problem was due to arsenic. Mr. Biswas got non-healing ulcer on his finger in 1987 and it had is amputated in May 1998.
Field Survey: 2nd October 1999 (District Meherpur)
Stadium para (Ward No. 9) of district Meherpur, P.S. Meherpur, is one of the worst arsenic affected villages I have seen in my 13 years of survey work in West Bengal and 5 years in Bangladesh. Out of the 112 people we had examined from Stadium para, 47 had arsenical skin lesions. Many of them have severe skin lesions. MD Kitab Ali has ulcer for last 10 years (Photograph-26).
Death from Stadium Para
From Stadium Para so far 9 people, who had severe arsenical skin lesions, have died. Most of them died at an early age. Villagers said many of those who died had non-healing type of ulcer. Those who died were AbuTaleb (M/30), Joyuddin (M/53), Sahad Ali (M/28), Atar Ali (M/35), Majira (F/35), Mamtaj (F/32), Jamat (M/45), and Arjima (F/25).
Field Survey: 3rd October 1999 (District Jessore)
Most of the people are drinking from
hand tube-wells which were colored red by field surveyors who had used
arsenic field testing kits in village Ganganandarpur of Jessore district,
P.S. Jhikargachha. The pity is that out of 89 tubewells in the village
98 % (by FI-HG-AAS method) are not safe to drink. Villagers are drinking
arsenic contaminated water as they have only a few safe sources at the
end of the village. This is a large village and the total population is
Field Survey: 4th October 1999 (District Jhenaidaha)
Achintanagar village of P.S. & district Jhenaidaha, is a uinque village. In this village, we encountered a family with 31 members and all were drinking arsenic contaminated water from a single hand tubewell having arsenic 0.52 µg/l. Members of this family were in the age group 5 to 50 years. Out of these 31 members, 6 had no arsenical skin lesions. Even 5 children in the age range 9-14 had arsenical skin lesions. The family is socio-economically poor.
Photographss-27, 28 & 29 show the whole family and a young boy (Ariful Islam, M/14) and young man Sayed Mondal (M/25) having arsenical skin lesions.
The old members of the family told that they installed the tubewell 10 years back and they started getting skin lesions after drinking its water for 2 years. There is no deep tubewell in this village.
Field Survey: 5th October 1999 (District Faridpur)
While working in village Brahamankanda under P.S. Faridpur Sadar of Faridpur district we encountered an arsenic patient, a student of Bachelor of Arts. He lives in Boalmari Thana's Kamaleswari village of Faridpur district. We went with him to his village. It was a very remote village and one can reach there only after crossing a couple of rivers and walking a long distance. We identified 17 patients in our short survey. In this village, we found patients with arsenical skin lesions who were drinking water having 0.103 µg/l. of arsenic (Photograph-30). People of Kamleswardi did not know that they were drinking arsenic contaminated water and suffering from arsenical skin lesions. We feel many interior villages of Bangladesh have not yet been surveyed for arsenic contamination.
Field Survey: From 22nd December 1999 to 1st January 2000.
During this period we surveyed nine districts. Out of them, 8 districts we had already surveyed earlier and identified patients with arsenical skin lesions. During this period, along with these 8 districts, we surveyed a new district, Sirajganj, for arsenic patients in places where we found the groundwater more than 0.05 µg/l of arsenic. We could not identify arsenic patients in Sirajganj in this preliminary survey (we surveyed only in 2 villages).
Our survey route is presented in Figure-3 and water report of the survey and patient status of the newly surveyed area presented in Table 19 & 20 respectively.
All the villages/part of the villages surveyed during this trip had not been surveyed or reported earlier.
Details about the district,
P.S. covered and number of villages surveyed reported below
Important Findings during Field Survey from 22nd December1999 to 1st January 2000.
Field Survey: 22nd December 1999 (District Sirajganj)
We could not identify any arsenic patient from the villages Bhatbera, Bhairab of P.S. Ullapara of district Sirajganj where groundwater contains arsenic above 0.05 µg/l.
Field Survey: 22nd December 1999 (District Pabna)
In Sujanagar P.S. of Pabna district there is Ahamadpur Village. This is a big village having a population of over 10,000. There are 7 areas in this village named Uttarpara, Dakshinpara, Madhyapara, Miapara, Khondokarpara, and Hafezpara. During our study we could study only Uttarpara.
After examining 180 people from the village Uttarpara, we found 33 arsenic patients with skin lesions. We feel we had seen only a small section of Uttarpara. Some of the other areas also have arsenic patients (according to villagers). In this village some small children are affected. Astma (F/11) is one of them, who have both keratosis and melanosis (Photograph-31).
Khokon (M/18) and Selenia (F/22) died at early age and had severe arsenical skin lesions.
During our work in Pabna, we got the information that in 21 villages in Bera P.S. there are arsenic patients with skin lesions. These villages are:
Tangbari, Ahmedpur, Haridebpur, Noyabari, Kashinathpur, Kazipur, Dayalnagar, Puran Masundia, Talimnagar, Talebnagar, Masundia, Trimohini, Ujan Kaya, Khan-A-Bari, Bora-Naoga, Fakira Kandi, Kazibhat, Natun-Varenga, Meoloipara, Monakhosa, Joradaha.
Field Survey: 23rd December 1999 (District Pabna)
In the same Sujapur P.S. we also surveyed the highly affected villages Sayedpur, Sayedpur (West), Mobarakpur, Birahimpur.
Sayedpur is another seriously affected village and the people are suffering for about 10 to 15 years. A large number of people are affected. People were hostile to us at the beginning but yielded after a long discussion and became friendly. In this village, in Seikh family, six people died at an early age. They had severe arsenical skin lesions.
People died in Seikh family at early age:
1. Titu (M/13)
In this village, there is no safe deep tubewell and the villagers have no idea which tubewell is safe to drink from. An old man, Khallilur Rahaman (M/60), said that he had to walk a few kilometres even at this age to get drinking water from nearby river. Many young men in this village have arsenical skin lesions (Photograph-32). We identified 30 people in this village as suffering from arsenical skin lesions. Arsenic concentration in hand tubewells in this village is quite high (0.4 to 0.7 µg/l).
In the village Mobarakpur we have identified Hossain Ali (M/58) as one who has arsenical skin lesions, and the biopsy of his ulcer has revealed malignancy (Photograph-33). Hossain Ali's hand-tubewell, whose water he had been drinking, has an arsenic concentration of 0.29 µg/l.
Near village Mobarakpur there
is another village, Birahimpur. In this village very small children are
affected with arsenical skin lesions. In the family of Sayed Seikh (M/38)
his children Sufia (F/10), Surya (F/7), Milan (M/13), Rabiulal (M/8) and
wife Aleya (F/35) all have arsenical skin lesions (Photograph-34). The
child Rabiual (M/8) has severe spotted melanosis (Photograph-35).