Officials have reported about the underground water contamination in Tripura due to naturally present arsenic, fuelling fears of serious health hazards.
Tripura Public Health Engineering (PHE) department chief engineer Sunil Kumar Bhowmik said a study conducted by a Lucknow-based agency revealed that underground water contains arsenic of not less that 0.05 mg.
The study said water samples for the tests were collected from Hrishyamukh and Santir Bazar in South Tripura district, Kamalpur and Salema in Dhalai district and Champaknagar in West Tripura district.
"Arsenic has been found in underground water in some areas and this could pose health risks for people," Bhowmik said. "An in-depth study is required to analyse the problem. There is no need for panic," he added.
The Tripura government has informed the centre about the matter and urged it to suggest corrective steps.
The North Eastern Regional Institute of Water and Land Management (NERIWALM) in a report said arsenic levels in the states of Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh was above 300 parts per billion (ppb).
Consumption of water contaminated with arsenic levels of over 50 ppb could cause skin lesions and even cancer, according to separate studies by the World Health Organisation and the US National Research Council.
Tripura Pollution Control Board (TPCB) officials said Tripura's proximity to Bangladesh, particularly the arsenic-affected Comilla and Sylhet districts, was one of the main factors contributing to the looming threat of arsenic infection.
"We would soon start an in-depth study across the state to identify the areas and intensity of arsenic affect in the bordering state," said TPCB Chairman Mihir Deb.