Areas hit by arsenic contamination pin hope on ‘Probaho’

Rashidul Hasan

21 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Areas hit by arsenic contamination pin hope on ‘Probaho’

Even a few days ago, access to safe drinking water was a far-fetched dream for Rimi Begum, a resident of Pachtia Village of Saturia in Manikganj, because of high level of arsenic and iron in water sources.

Woman like her had to use impure water for drinking, cooking and other house-hold chores in the area. 

And the traditional water filtration method that they used was not enough to purify the water.

But safe drinking water is now available thanks to the water project titled “Probaho” under which a water treatment plant has been installed.

Expressing gratitude to Probaho, Rimi Begum said, “Our bad days are finally over. Now, we can collect water for drinking and cooking purpose from the plant. I can drink water without any hesitation. People of our locality are also delightfully using the water without any trouble.

“Our health was at stake. It jeopardized our daily lifestyle and livelihood. Now we are drinking safe water. It is a big relief for us.” 

Mohammad Selim, a resident of Pirer Bari area in Tilli Union under Saturia, said that there are similar water purifying plants in his area and a large number of people are benefitting from it.

Selim said, "There are around 5,000 people in my area. They are suffering from acute shortage of pure drinking water. The tube well water is contaminated with arsenic and iron. We need more water plants like Probaho to ensure safe drinking water for all."

In Manikganj, there are 12 such community based plants. Each plant can purify 400 litres of water per hour. 

Since 2009, 108 such community based water plants have been installed under the project in arsenic prone areas like Kushtia, Jhenaidah, Meherpur, Rangpur, and Chittagong Hill Tracts. 

Mohammad Mursalin, Chairman of Tilli Union, said, “Currently, there are two water purifying plants at Ward No. 50, which are directly benefiting more than 4,000 people daily. There was an acute crisis for safe drinking water in this area. Locals were infected with various water-borne diseases.

“To fulfill the demand for safe water, more water plants should be installed.”

UNICEF reports that around 19.4 million people are still drinking water with a high level of arsenic above national health standards.

The project has positively impacted thousands of lives and livelihoods of rural people.

Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Saturia Upazila Ashraful Alam said, “Along with others, I am also suffering from lack of safe drinking water. There is no part in this area which is not affected by arsenic or iron. The high presence of iron and arsenic has made people’s lives miserable here.

“We appreciate this private initiative to ensure safe drinking water for our people. There should be more private initiatives alongside government’s effort to ensure clean water in this area.”