This red-marked tube-well on the premises of Kurighar Government Primary School in Nabinagar upazila under Brahmanbaria district is one of over 62 thousand arsenic contaminated water sources in the district. PHOTO: STAR
At least 428 people have been detected with arsenicosis, a slow poisoning disease leading to various complications, as massive arsenic contamination affects underground drinking water in different areas of the district.
Of the over 1,45,250 tube-wells installed in nine upazilas of the district to lift water from underground, 62,119 tube wells were painted red till June 2013 as they draw arsenic-contaminated water, says records of the Department of Public Health and Engineering (DPHE) in Brahmanbaria.
"Arsenicosis affects lever, kidney, heart and skin. It also makes dark pimple on the skin and after a period of time the spots turn into severe ulcers," said Dr Farhad Hossain Muhammad Shahed, senior consultant of medicine of Brahmanbaria Sadar Hospital.
"People must avoid the drinking of arsenic contaminated water. Eating balanced diet, small fishes, vitamins and vegetables, can reduce the effect of arsenic," he said.
A large number of people have continued drinking arsenic affected water from red-marked tube-wells as they have hardly any alternative.
According to the report of DPHE, Nabinagar and Bancharampur upazilas are largely affected with arsenic.
"We have to drink arsenic-mixed water as not a single tube-well in the village is free from the contamination," said Md Humayun Kabir, a resident of Bitghar village of Nabinagar upazila.
Sohrab Uddin Ahmed, executive engineer of DPHE, said, "Excessive use of underground water for irrigation through shallow and deep tube-wells is the main cause of arsenic contamination. If alternative arrangement for irrigation water is not made, the layer of ordinary tube-well water will totally be contaminated with arsenic in future when people will have to depend on only deep tube-wells of drinking water."
To ensure safe drinking water, some deep tube-wells have already been installed in some areas and the work is going on, he added.