West Bengal || Bangladesh
Middle Ganga Plain, Bihar ||
27 days detailed field survey information from April 1999 to February, 2000
Field Survey: 24th December 1999 (District Pabna)
On 24th December we surveyed the village Sayedpur- Middle of P.S. Sujanagar. We identified a young girl, Nargis (F/15). All the fingers on her left feet have been amputated because of cancer. She has severe arsenical skin lesions (Photograph-36). Nargis do not believe her illness is from the water so still she drinking the same tubewell water (arsenic 0.57 µg/l). Arsenic content of her urine was 650 µg/l.
In this village, we identified Farhad (M/12) and Swapna (F/11) both of whom have have arsenical skin lesions. They came from Banderban to this village one-year ago and both of them and after drinking arsenic contaminated water (0.69 µg/l) both of them got the skin lesions (Photograph- 37) within one year. Banderbon is hilly area and safe with respect to arsenic in drinking water. Before coming here they were drinking water in Banderbon from streams.
A typical exception had been observed in the village Ujankaya of P.S. Sujanagar. In the family of Niamatali (M/40), his wife Ajibakhatim (F/31) and son Johurul (M/18) all three have the arsenical skin lesions but daughter Silpi (F/15) has no skin lesions although all were drinking from same tubewell having arsenic concentration 0.69 µg/l. The same is true from Ullas Molla (M/16), drinking arsenic contaminated water 0.66 µg/l from the same village.
Field Survey: 25th December 1999 (District Bheramara)
A family where many died at early age with arsenic skins lesions and a few still borne babies.
In the village Fakirabad P.S. Bheramara there is the family of Harsen Molla (M/70). At present, in Molla family 5 adults are alive and all have arsenical skin lesions. Three children of the family below age 11 have no skin lesions, as they are drinking safe water from a nearby deep tubewell (declared safe). They discontinued their tubewell about 7-8 years ago. The contaminated tube-well of the Molla family is no longer there. Mr. Harsen Molla, who is the guardian of the family, is suffering for the last 20 years but is still strong, compared to young members of his family. Meera (F/35) is the 3rd wife of Harsan Molla. Meera said she got married to Harsen when she was 24 and Harsen was at that time 59 years old at that time. Meera got skin lesions after one year of her marriage. Meera got 6 children in 6 years but the first 4 issues were still born. Two children are still alive. Harsen told that 25 years back they had installed the tubewell and with in a few years they started getting skin lesions. At that time the family was big but one after another they died and all had arsenical skin lesions.
Harsan's mother died first (1985). After that in 1987 his 2nd wife died. Harsen then got married to Meera. Daughter Jharna, son Khairul died at the age of 14 and 10 on the same day. After that his son Lalmia's wife Sajeda died (of cancer) and she too had given birth to a stillborn baby. After 2 years of Sajeda's death Lalmia died of cancer. At present, in the Harsan family, Harman's one son from his 1st wife, 2 sons from his 2nd wife and 2 boys from his 3rd wife Meera are alive. Photograph- 38 shows Harsan (M/70) and his son Rezaul (M/30).
Field Survey: 26th December 1999 (District Madaraipur)
In the village of Golabari-gajirchar, P.S. Madaripur Sadar, District Madaripur, we found all 20 adult men and women out of total 70 had arsenical skin lesions. Out of 70, 50 are below age 18 and they have not skin lesions. The people were drinking water from 3 hand tubewell and the arsenic concentration of these 3 tubewells was 0.83, 0.80, 0.61 µg/l respectively. Socio-economically, this village appears sound. For the last 8 years, they are drinking safe water from a nearby deep tubewell (arsenic concentration less than 0.003 µg/l). Most probably due to this reason the young generation is not affected.
Field Survey: 27th December 1999 (District Gopalganj)
In the village Charbarfa, PS and Dist: Gopalganj, there is Fazlar Rahaman (M/65). His wife and 3 children are affected, but although Fazlar Rahaman was drinking the same water, he has no skin lesions. His one son died at an early age. He had severe skin lesions, while another, Bellal Fakir (M/22), too has severe skin lesions (Photograph -39).
Imam Fakir, son of Fazlar Rahaman, died at the age of 28. He had severe skin lesions.
A Source of Safe Water
In Gopalganj district there is a big water body known as Chand-beel, under PS Kashiani. The Beel covers an area of about 200 sq. km. In some areas around this beel there are villages on higher grounds. The houses in these villages are isolated from one another and to go from one house to another one needs a boat round the year. During the rainy season part of these houses are submerged under water (Photograph-40). Villagers said that the situation had not changed over the last 100 years. People travel by boat round the year. It is a huge water body, but proper utilization of its water has not been done. Although we got some information of arsenic patients from villagers around Chandbeel, we could not survey any village except Singa, as travel by boat was extremely time consuming and the houses were far away from one another.
Field Survey: 28th December 1999 (District Madaripur)
Datterhat village of PS Madaripur Sadar, Dist: Madaripur is highly affected. Villagers were not aware that they were drinking arsenic-contaminated water and that their skin lesions were due to arsenic toxicity. Some of them suspected that the water they were drinking was not good. So they avoided taking drinking water from their own tubewell but kept using the water for cooking and washing food. Some of them even drank that water from time to time. All 4 hand tubewells in the village have arsenic concentration 0.57, 0.63, 0.73, 0.60 µg/l respectively. Out of the 130 people examined for arsenical skin lesions, 26 were found to have arsenical skin lesions and some of them, such as Runia Begum (F/25) (Photograph-41), had serious lesions. Since in this village people were drinking contaminated water from time to time, we analysed the urine of 10 children below 14, and of 14 young adults. It was found that all of them had arsenic in urine much above the normal level (range 113 to 810 µg/l). All of them had arsenic in nail above the normal level and in their hair above the toxic level.
Field Survey: 28th December 1999 (District Faridpur)
Faridpur is one of the districts we identified as arsenic affected in 1995. The more we are surveying this district the more affected areas and arsenic patients are coming to light. One of the NGO-Forum's officials, Mr. Sahidul Islam, told us during a discussion on 26th December 1999 those many of those tubewells they found safe earlier was now predominantly contaminated.
We could survey 2 villages: Gajhata (P.S. Nagarkanda) and Sadipur (P.S. Faridpur Sadar) in Faridpur district on 28th December, and in both the villages many people were found to be affected. Nasima (F/35) of Sadipur village had spotted melanosis all over body up to her neck (not common) along with keratosis (Photograph- 42).
Field Survey: 29th December 1999 (District Chandpur)
From the beginning of our survey in 1995, we were aware of the arsenic problem in Chandpur district. The number of affected villages keeps increasing as we do more and more survey. During this survey we had prior information about 2 villages in P.S. Shahrasti of Chandpur. But when we went to these villages we got information of many others. On 29th December alone, we surveyed 11 villages of Shahrasti, and in all these villages we had identified arsenic patients.
In village Kherihar, PS: Shahrasti, many people are seriously affected. Khalilul Rahamn (M/29) has all the symptoms of arsenical skin lesions (Photograph-43).
In Kheriher village, wife of Abdul Gain (M/45) died of cancer at the age of 39. She had arsenical skin lesions, according to her husband.
At the end of the day's work, the Chairman of the locality, Mr. Anwar Hossain (M/35), welcomed us. He told us that the people were unaware of the arsenic problem. We found Mr. Hossain, too, was arsenic affected, but he did not know that also.
Field Survey: 30th December 1999 (District: Chandpur)
In Bangladesh, during 1970's, a large number of deep tubewells of big-diameter were installed. In Santia P.S. of Pabna, hundreds of such deep tubewells were drilled. When these deep tubewells operate, shallow tubewells become dry. We learnt of some cases in which the upper layer of the soil had collapsed along with the pump house. We saw it in village Asrafpur, PS: Kachua Dist: Chandpur (Photograph-44). Ali Ahamad Mia said that in 1972 the deep tubewell near his village was installed (8" diameter pipe). Up to 1995 it was perfectly all right. From 1996 sand started coming out with water. Later, large quantities of sand started coming out with water, and one morning, Mr. Ali Ahmed found that the pump house had collapsed and there was big crater around the pump house.
On 30th December we had identified arsenic patients from 5 villages of Haziganj P.S. in Chandpur district. Our survey was only partial in all these villages.
In the village Belghor of P.S. Haziganj, Rokia Begum (F/30), who has arsenical skin lesions, reported that her husband died of liver cancer. Arsenic concentration in the water they were drinking is 0.49 µg/l.
In Belghar, we have found 2 hand tubewells a few meters apart - one of them is arsenic contaminated (red) another green (Photograph-45).
Field Survey: 31st December 1999 (District Chandpur)
On 31st December, we surveyed Police Station Chandpur Sadar and Faridganj and identified 11 villages. Although we covered all these 11 villages in one day and identified people with arsenical skin lesions in all these villages, we have no hesitation in saying that we have just done some preliminary work and have not surveyed them in detail.
Death at early age
In the village Uttar Chandpur of P.S. Faridganj many people are affected. This is one of the villages that had been identified as arsenic affected in the middle of the 90's. Those who died at an early age with arsenical skin lesions were:
Meherunissa (F/40), Sarwar (M/14)
Saria Begam (F/40), Mukta (F/5)
Jesmin Aktar of village Paragabdiogang, P.S. Faridganj, is 20 years old and has severe arsenical skin lesions. In her family, all have arsenical skin lesions. She was married to Humayun of Daskhim Dhanua village, PS. Faridganj. Her husband is now in the Middle East. Jesmin finds it difficult to live with her mother-in-law, but she can't go back to her parents. This is because after the death of her mother, his father married again, and her stepmother does not want her.
Field Survey: 1st January 2000 (District Lakshmipur)
On 1st January we surveyed 4 villages: Sripur, Ratanpur, Komardia and Ghatlabag of P.S. Ramganj, district Lakshmipur. In Sripur village, many are affected, including children. There are about 200 members in one family and many of them are affected. We made a partial survey in these villages.
Death at early age
In Sripur village Monowar (F/30) and Faruk (M/18) died. Both of them had severe asenical skin lesions.
Field Survey: 10-13th February 2000
During this period we covered
six districts. Out of them, we surveyed for the first time the two districts
of Gazipur and Kishoreganj for arsenic patients and identified some patients.
Details of districts, Police Stations and villages surveyed are given
Figure-3: Shows our survey route & Table- 21 & 22 show water analysis and patient status report.
Important Findings during
Field Survey from February 10-13, 2000.