2006 Photo Contest, Contemporary Issues, 3rd prize

Sucheta Das

02 June, 2005

Jiten Sakhari (74) drinks water from a tubewell contaminated by arsenic. Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment in varying degrees. Although it is not certain where the contamination in West Bengal originates, it is thought that the arsenic seeps from rocks into underground water supplies. Levels of the chemical are particularly high in West Bengal and Bangladesh, where as many as 40 million people are believed to be at risk. Long-term consumption of even small amounts of arsenic can be fatal, and studies have linked prolonged exposure with cancer, diabetes and liver disease. Deep tubewells are particularly affected. From the 1970s onwards both the United Nations and the World Bank advocated the digging of such wells as an alternative to surface water bodies that had become polluted by industrial effluents and sewage.

About the photographer

Sucheta Das

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