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Groundwater Arsenic contamination in West Bengal-India (20 years study )

Reported work done by SOES

Groundwater arsenic contamination status of North 24-Parganas district, one of the nine arsenic affected districts of West Bengal-India

Location and demography
North 24 Parganas is situated in the southern part of the Bengal Basin. The geographical extent of the district lies between 88019/ E, 23020/ N to 89010/ E, 22001/ N. The district consists of 22 blocks. Officially there are 1582 inhabited villages in North 24 Parganas district. But during our survey we found 1515 villages/wards in this district. There are 679 Municipal areas (known as wards) in North 24 Parganas district. Extending over an area of 4094 km2, the district has 89,34,286 inhabitants (46,38,756 are males and 42,95,530 females).

Arsenic contamination status in groundwater of North 24 Parganas district
To date, we have analyzed 54368 hand tubewell water samples from 2848 villages/wards from 312 GPs/ Municipal area of all 22 blocks of North 24 Parganas. Table I below shows the distribution of arsenic in tubewell water samples from North 24 Parganas district. Figure I shows the groundwater arsenic contamination status in all 22 blocks of North 24 Parganas with Pie-diagram distribution. Arsenic concentration above 10 µg/L was observed in 29023 (53.4%) hand tubewells and above 50 µg/L in 16020 (29.5%) and 1834 (3.4%) of the tubewells had arsenic concentrations above 300µg/L.  2127, 1481 and 398 villages contained arsenic above 10, 50 and 300 µg/L respectively and in 22, 21 and 16 blocks arsenic above 10, 50 and 300 µg/L was noted respectively.
Only one block “Sandeshkhali-II” was arsenic safe according to Indian standard (50µg/L) and in Sandeshkhali-I only 0.6% tubewells exceeds 50µg/L. The probable reason may be, in Sandeshkhali-I and Sandeshkhali-II, most of the tubewells were deep tubewells. Shallow tubewells are saline, so people do not construct shallow tubewells. Due to the same reason we could not find arsenic in the southern part of Hingalganj block as all the tubewells were of higher depth. But we found arsenic in the northern part of Hingalganj block as it is close to Hasnabad block where shallow tubewells with sweet water are available.  Arsenic level above 1000µg/L was found in 49 tubewells; the maximum arsenic contamination level found in this district is 2830µg/L in the Baduria block.

Groundwater arsenic situation and sufferings of people in North 24-Parganas district

Block
Total samples analysed 
Distribution of total samples in different arsenic concentration (mg/L) ranges
%of Samples with As >10mg/L
% of Samples with As >50mg/L
Max. conc. mg/L (samples with As >1000mg/L

≤3

4-10

11-50

51-100

101-200

201-300

300-500

501-1000

Amdanga

1086

627

65

265

48

45

22

12

1

36.3

11.9

2250 (1)

Baduria

5576

2194

421

1582

552

390

200

165

70

53.1

24.7

2830 (2)

Bagdah

850

312

101

338

74

17

4

2

1

51.4

11.6

1766 (1)

Bangaon

781

492

39

152

67

27

4

32.0

12.5

270

Barasat I

4697

1994

478

1348

431

297

88

47

12

47.4

18.7

1420 (2)

Barasat II

2240

868

180

571

251

250

69

41

10

53.2

27.7

735

Barrackpur I

884

501

95

172

45

54

17

32.6

13.1

280

Barrackpur II

1215

1124

14

33

27

10

4

1

6.3

3.6

1560 (2)

Basirhat I

3551

576

139

767

423

721

459

336

127

79.9

58.3

2448 (3)

Basirhat II

3761

2470

134

538

264

187

105

48

15

30.8

16.5

760

Deganga

13245

4879

326

3078

2243

1742

497

307

144

60.7

37.5

2240 (29)

Gaighata

4239

1492

57

914

651

712

272

106

34

63.5

41.9

1040 (1)

Habra I

2461

730

68

750

396

356

100

43

16

67.5

37.1

1200 (2)

Habra II

409

131

33

89

37

45

23

23

25

59.9

38.1

1250 (3)

Hansnabad

1923

814

120

422

261

180

72

46

6

51.4

29.5

1060 (2)

Haroa

1003

573

94

234

80

18

3

1

33.5

10.2

571

Hingalganj

116

58

36

18

1

3

19.0

3.4

139

Minakhan

316

104

131

70

11

25.6

3.5

100

Rajarhat

3244

1537

378

960

223

124

20

2

41.0

11.4

327

Sandeshkhali I

318

290

13

13

1

1

4.7

0.6

300

Sandeshkhali II

332

251

61

20

6.0

0.0

37

Swarupnagar

2121

204

141

669

321

352

292

126

15

83.6

52.1

1292 (1)

Total

54368

22221

3124

13003

6406

5531

2249

1308

477

53.4

29.5

2830 (49)

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