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India: Arsenic: Lurking in the shadows across Ganga, Brahmaputra basins by Simran Sumbre, Trinayani Sen February 12,2020   |  Source: Down to Earth

Arseic contamination in groundwater is one of the most crippling issues in the drinking water scenario of India. According to the latest report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 21 states across the country have pockets with arsenic levels higher than the Bureau of Indian Standards’ (BIS) stipulated permissible limit of 0.01 miligram per litre (mg/l). The states along the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basin — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam — are the worst affected by this human-amplified geogenic occurrence.

In India, arsenic contamination was first officially confirmed in West Bengal in 1983. Close to four decades after its detection, the scenario has worsened. About 9.6 million people in West Bengal, 1.6 million in Assam, 1.2 million in Bihar, 0.5 million in Uttar Pradesh and 0.013 million in Jharkhand are at immediate risk from arsenic contamination in groundwater, according to latest data published by the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) of the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS).

The presence of arsenic contamination, as specified by diverse sources for each of the affected states in the GBM river basin presents a perplexing riddle. For instance, in Bihar, the state Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) data

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