Amitangshu Acharya Profile picture
Jun 11, 2018 8 tweets 8 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Though I am really glad that #arsenic contamination of #groundwater in India, and specially #WestBengal is getting the attention it deserves, there is a major issue that needs wider discussion.
There is a simplistic argument that arsenic naturally occurs in the #Gangetic belt, the author uses the term “#geological curse”. If this is the case, why is heavy #arsenic contamination being reported from #Jharkhand and #Chattisgarh in Central India?
A possible answer to that may be traced to this MIT paper that was published in @NatureGeosci on #anthropogenic influence on #groundwater #arsenic contamination in #Bangladesh…
This paper challenges the “geological curse” theory, arguing that organic carbon, settling at the bottom of #ponds undergo microbial metabolism, freeing up arsenic and allowing it to leach into #groundwater. This may explain the sudden appearance of #arsenic in Central #India.
Why is this important? If the science behind this paper is true, which I assume it is, then through land use changes like pond construction, we can amplify the risk. The “geological curse” argument will bind us to the #Holocene & #Pleistocene & not to the #Anthropocene
Remarkably, this research identified #rice fields as an #arsenic sink, to quote the author Charles Harvey “ water with high arsenic content originates from the human-built ponds, and water with lower arsenic content originates from the rice fields”.
In toto, #arsenic is not just a geological curse, but also an #anthropogenic one. This should help us find integrated #land-water solutions to this crisis, as we need to worry are enabling more leaching of #arsenic with #land use changes.
It will also help shift the optics to new states witnessing #arsenic contamination of #groundwater, namely, #Jharkhand, #Chattisgarh and #Manipur and try and gauge what kind of interventions are needed there.

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