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1356 Habitats Affected By Arsenic In Tripura: Union Jal Minister In Rajya Sabha

The problem of groundwater arsenic contamination is common across the Northeast, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Minister for Jal Shakti, informed the Rajya Sabha. Shekhawat was responding to a question posed by Tripura MP Jharna Das of Communist Party of India (Marxist). Das had recently raised the question of iron and arsenic contamination in the drinking water of her state. Shekhawat in his answer stated, “As reported by North–Eastern States, 1,247 habitations in Assam are affected by Arsenic contamination in groundwater; 231 habitations in Arunachal Pradesh, 1,356 habitations in Tripura and 19,804 habitations in Assam are having Iron contamination in groundwater sources.” Das asked when the Ministry would take steps in providing non-toxic drinking water to the eight states, especially in Tripura. Under Jal Jeevan Mission, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Sikkim have planned to provide tap water supply to every household by 2022, whereas Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura by 2023 and Assam by 2024, said jal minister. Long-term consumption of groundwater rich in arsenic can lead to chronic poisoning, causing diseases like cancer, bronchitis, diabetes, bone marrow depression, and cardiovascular diseases. World Health Organisation (WHO) states that a maximum of 10 ppb (part per billion) or 0.01 mg/litre of arsenic, and 1 mg/litre of fluoride in drinking water is safe. However, the global health body also states that the presence of arsenic even as low as 0.17 ppb can cause cancer. Consumption of arsenic in drinking water has also been associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In utero and early childhood, exposure has been linked to negative impacts on cognitive development and increased deaths in young adults as stated by WHO.

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