The new rice variety, Muktoshri — also called IET 21845 —, was developed jointly by the Rice Research Station at Chinsurah coming under West Bengal’s Agriculture Department and the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
• Arsenic is naturally present at high levels in the groundwater of a number of countries.
• Arsenic is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
• Contaminated water used for drinking, food preparation and irrigation of food crops poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
• Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can cause cancer and skin lesions. It 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.
ARSENIC CONTAMINATION OF GROUNDWATER
Arsenic in ground water is a geogenic contaminant i.e. caused by natural geologic processes.
Arseic contamination in groundwater is one of the most crippling issues in the drinking water scenario of India.
According to the latest report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 21 states across the country have pockets with arsenic levels higher than the Bureau of Indian Standards’ (BIS) stipulated permissible limit of 0.01 miligram per litre (mg/l).
Close to four decades after its detection, the scenario has worsened.
About 9.6 million people in West Bengal, 1.6 million in Assam, 1.2 million in Bihar, 0.5 million in Uttar Pradesh and 0.013 million in Jharkhand are at immediate risk from arsenic contamination in groundwater, according to latest data published by the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) of the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS).
Arsenic is one of WHO’s 10 chemicals of major public health concern.WHO’s work to reduce arsenic exposure includes setting guideline values, reviewing evidence, and providing risk management recommendations.
WHO publishes a guideline value for arsenic in its Guidelines for drinking-water quality.
The Guidelines are intended for use as the basis for regulation and standard setting worldwide.
Several studies have shown that arsenic from groundwater and the soil can enter the food chain through paddy.
According to the WHO, long-term exposure to arsenic, mainly through drinking water and food, can lead to poisoning.
Skin lesions and skin cancer are the most characteristic effects.