|Water of Life or Death
Nearly two decades ago we made a massive shift from drinking surface water to ground water to save our people from waterborne and water-contaminated diseases. Now we have discovered, to our horror, that ground water, in some areas, contain arsenic at levels for higher than good far human consumption. How large is the problem, how extensive is arsenic contamination and how many people have been affected by it are questions that need immediate answer. Many people do not know, and will not know, whether or not they are affected because it takes 10-15 years for the symptoms to surface. Estimates suggest that nearly 75 million people are at risk. Nowhere else in the world has ground water consumption put such a large part of the population to such a slow but mortal danger.
There is no parallel in the world of such a huge population being affected by supply of drinking water. Therefore we are unable to draw on the experience of other countries. Along with us, the state of West Bengal in India has also shown to suffer from large scale arsenic contamination, The challenge for us now is to find a solution of this massive problem. The international conference, organized by Dhaka Community Hospital, that is being held in Dhaka now, will hopefully give us some useful clues as to what to do.
We, in the Daily star, commit to use all our energies to work with all concerned to find a timely solution of this huge problem. We must all work together to face this new and devastating challenge. With that end in view we organized a roundtable on 3 February 98 with nearly all organizations and expert working in this field.