Arsenic contamination in water: a conceptual framework of policy options with particular reference to Bengal delta basin
Arsenic contamination in water supplies continues to increase in many countries, especially in developing nations, thereby creating both environmental and health hazard. Its sources and effects are multiple and diffused in nature and it requires detailed assessment and policy. This paper discusses the global extent of the problem, its sources and effects and explores different policy options. Sources and pathways of interaction require comprehensive assessment and policy. Innovation in low cost technologies offers possibilities for reducing abatement cost and for economic efficiency. To reduce arsenic in water resources, incentive policies such as taxing and subsidising can be used to reduce arsenic levels in point sources through creation of appropriate incentives. The paper also identifies opportunities for enhancing self–protection efforts through education and information sharing. Under a self–protection policy, though the damages decline to a greater extent, there is a possibility of an increase in arsenic emission. Finally, a combination of policies is proposed that involve low cost technology, education and awareness to mitigate the damage from arsenic contamination at a watershed scale. It is also necessary to enforce these policies through appropriate institutional changes that involve coordination and cooperative efforts to mitigate arsenic contamination.
Keywords: arsenic contamination, water pollution, policy options, education policy, incentives, self–protection, information sharing, taxation policy, taxes, subsidising policy, subsidies, low cost technology, India, institutional change