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Vision 2020: Govt looks to mitigate arsenic contamination in Bengal

KOLKATA: State Public Health Engineering (PHE) and Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said on Wednesday the state government has prepared Vision 2020 to address the issue of arsenic contamination in Bengal.
"Seven districts and nine blocks in the state are highly infected with arsenic whose contamination can bring in deadly diseases like Cancer. We are working with Vision 2020 that our department has envisaged after being prodded by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The state government's funds as well as funds from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and JICA are being used to address the issue of arsenic contamination," Mukherjee said on the sidelines of "Royal Excellence National Award 2018", organised by an NGO to recognise the outstanding achievements of social entrepreneurs in different walks of life.
The minister was candid enough to admit that Bengal is the worst affected by the problem of arsenic in the whole country.
Elaborating on the steps adopted by the PHE department in this regard, the minister said the department is extracting water from the river through pipes and then treating it in modern treatment plants before supplying it for drinking purpose.
"This treatment frees the water from bacteria or germs and prevents arsenic contamination," he added.
The minister further added that in places where the river remains dry during some time in a year, the department is using submersible pumps to extract water and then purify it in treatment plants before supplying it to people for drinking.
"We have been able to do 61 per cent of the work in this regard and by 2020 it will improve a lot," he added.
According to the minister, the PHE department is gradually setting up water ATMs at all district hospitals and institutions across the state.
"We are so convinced about the quality of the water in these ATMs that we are writing on the machines if anyone could prove the presence of bacteria in it, we would award that person with Rs 2 lakh. Setting up such water ATMs across the district is our priority. However, Kolkata that already has a handful of such technology will have 50 water ATMs in the next few years," the minister said.
Good quality bacteria free water alone can prevent human body from as many as 70 diseases, the minister claimed. The award ceremony was also attended by state IT minister Bratya Basu, eminent painter Jogen Chowdhury to name a few.

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