Arsenic-laden water in far west

Himalayan News Service

Dhangadhi, May 29:

For want of alternative drnking water sources, people in Kailali and Kanchanpur are forced to drink arsenic-laden water.

According to a NGO, Water for Nepal Health (NEWA), 16 percent of the water in Kanchanpur and 25 percent water in Kailali contains more than 10 PPB arsenic. WHO has labelled water containing over 10 PPB arsenic as injurious to human health.

NEWA, the only organization to have done research related to arsenic in the water in the far western region, has found arsenic level over 10 PPB in 91 out of 340 tube wells in Kailali. Of these, the water in 47 tubewells was found to be containing 50 PPB, said the regional coordinator of NEWA, Hom Nath Acharya. Arsenic tests will be carried out in 809 tube wells in Kailali this year, he said.

NEWA also verified the arsenic level in Kanchanpur district’s Dodhari, Chandani, Krishnapur and Laxmipur VDCs, where it detected arsenic over 10 PPB in 60 percent of the taps. In the arsenic tests carried out in 145 tubewells in Laxmipur VDC, 55 tubewells contained over 10

PPB arsenic, which is the highest in the district. Of the 260 tube wells tested, 147 were found not worth drinking from, Hom Nath Acharya said. The organization has also planned to carry out tests in 618 tubewells in Kanchanpur district, he said.

Kailali’s Kota, Tulsipur and Darakh VDCc contain the highest level of arsenic, he said.

Although drinking arsenic-laced water does not have an immediate effect, in the long run it invites such diseases as jaundice, experts say. Besides, people fall prey to swollen glands and skin diseases which become chronic and become difficult to cure. Patients finally contract Arsenicosis, Acharya said. Arsenic cannot be removed from water even by boiling, he said. “The only way to to get rid of it is using the Kanchan filter,” he added.