12% people at arsenic risk: LGRD minister
Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain today told parliament that 12 percent people are still at risk of arsenic contamination in the country.
Replying to lawmakers’ queries, the minister said excessive arsenic (above 50ppb) was found in the water of 29 percent tube wells in 2003.
The Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) in 2003 tested some 50 lakh tube wells in 271 upazilas in the country and 14.5 lakh tube wells were found contaminated with more than the permissible level of arsenic, he said in a scripted answer.
"As various mitigation measures taken by the government were implemented, now 12 percent of the people are at the risk of arsenic contamination," he added.
Pointing to different arsenic mitigation measures, Mosharraf said a project titled 'Village Water Supply Project' has already been begun to install 63,000 safe water sources across the country.
Besides, he said DPHE is now implementing another project titled 'Bangladesh Rural Water Supply and Sanitation'. Under the project, water supply is being ensured in arsenic affected areas through 37 rural piped water supply schemes and 14,000 point waters.
Process is also going on to undertake a project by the ministry titled 'Arsenic Risk Reduction Project for Water Supply', he added.
Turning to the previous arsenic mitigation measures, the minister said a water source was ensured against every 88 people in the rural areas and the coverage of water supply was increased to 88 percent from 82 percent.
The DPHE set up some three lakh water sources in the last 15 years. Of them, 2.10 lakh water sources were established in the arsenic affected areas, he said.
Safe drinking water was ensured for 122 municipalities through pipe line and tube wells under various projects. Another project is now being prepared for 155 municipalities where there is no water supply through pipe line, Mosharraf said.