Social and institutional provisions for arsenic risk mitigation in West Bengal: Achievements and challenges

Rajarshi Das Gupta, Rajib Shaw

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


Arsenic contamination in shallow groundwater aquifers in the lower Gangetic basin constitutes a major health hazard in the Bengal basin extended over Bangladesh and India. It has been estimated that at least 35 million people in Bangladesh and 6 million people in India are severely affected by arsenic-contaminated water. More so, about 57 and 9 million people in Bangladesh and West Bengal, respectively, are exposed to arsenic-contamination risk. The use of hazardous, arsenic-bearing groundwater for drinking, cooking, and irrigation in West Bengal and Bangladesh has led to what has been described by the WHO as the worst case of mass poisoning in human history. In case of West Bengal, the problem of arsenic contamination was discovered in the 1980s; since then several mitigation measures were adopted by the provincial and federal governments, community organizations, and NGOs. Yet, poor infrastructural arrangements, dire poverty, lack of awareness, and education increased the risk of arsenic exposure over the decades. In this chapter, an effort has been made to critically analyze the extent of mitigation measures adopted so far in the state of West Bengal. It discusses in detail the chronological responses of the provincial government in arsenic risk mitigation, implementation of adopted mitigation measures, and the consequent response and actions of arsenic-Affected communities in West Bengal. The chapter also highlights the emerging challenges of arsenic risk mitigation in West Bengal and proposes a "system- based" framework for risk mitigation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWater Insecurity
Subtitle of host publicationA Social Dilemma
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781781908822
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameCommunity, Environment and Disaster Risk Management
ISSN (Print)2040-7262
ISSN (Electronic)2040-7270


  • Arsenic contamination
  • Risk exposure
  • Risk management
  • Socio-institutional provision
  • West bengal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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