Call it apathy of the State government or just inefficiency on the part of the administration, arsenic poisoning has become a silent killer in Assam as well as in some parts of the Northeast where many people have been afflicted by different ailments caused by drinking contamited water.
Though high fluoride contamition in groundwater is a common problem in Assam, the first traces of arsenic were detected in 2004 in the State. According to official records, at least 19 districts of the State have reported arsenic contamition of groundwater. But other recent studies have painted a more serious picture. The danger is that most of those drinking arsenic contamited water in these districts are not fully aware of it or its consequences. Lack of effective public awareness campaigns on arsenocosis by the government is heightening the risk.
In a study, the Northeastern Regional Institute of Water and Land Magement (NERIWALM) based in Tezpur has found that 20 out of 24 districts of Assam have arsenic contamition in ground water, which is much higher than the permissible limit of arsenic in drinking water, as prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Dhemaji and Karimganj districts are said to be the worst affected districts. The present Assam government must take this issue very seriously and take urgent measures to combat this public health threat.