Bangladesh: the holocaust in our water
Water is one of the most basic things required for life. Seventy-one percent of the Earth’s surface is water. By weight, the average human body is about 65 percent water. Water brings life to animals, forests, crops, lands. Even though 97 percent of people in Bangladesh have access to water, only 40 percent have access to sanitation. In other words, the majority of our people, 60 percent of our brothers and sisters, do not have access to safe, clean drinking water.
To make matters worse, we, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, are suffering a holocaust hidden in our water. Potable water is limited. And the groundwater that is used by 90 percent of the population is contaminated with arsenic. The levels of arsenic in our water is contributing to what the World Health Organization calls “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history… beyond the accidents at Bhopal, India, in 1984, and Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986,” affecting as many as 77 million of brothers and sisters. Exposure to arsenic causes the deaths of one out of every five people in Bangladesh. This means that roughly 30 million people of our current populations will die from poisoning. The state could easily direct more resources into preventing these deaths, but it does not care. This is an invisible holocaust that those in power refuse to address in a serious way. Yet we see the this holocaust every day when we look into the eyes of our sick and dying children and elders. This holocaust is a result of underdevelopment imposed by the empire, the capitalists, and feudalists. It is a result of poor planning by the state and imperial schemes. The mass poisoning could have been easily avoided if the people had a say in their own destiny. It could have easily been avoided with a system that placed people and the environment first.
Corruption and underdevelopment touches every aspect of life in Bangladesh, including the availability of water. The availability of water changes with the season. There is the monsoon season and there are drier months. However, because of centuries of underdevelopment and neglect, our state has not developed the infrastructure to capture the excess water from the wetter months to provide during the drier months. This problem is compounded. This gives us little control over our water since our great rivers, the Brahmaputra, Meghna, and Ganges, all originate in other countries that are able to control the flow of water at its source. This is yet another example of how the capitalist system values profit, not people. The state could easily create the infrastructure to deliver clean, consistent water year round for the masses. For the capitalists, poor people, workers, peasants, small owners, homeless, we do not matter. They do not care if our sons and daughters drink clean water or poison.
Another problem is the rising salinity, the salt content, of our water, which makes our water less suitable for human use and agriculture. One of the reasons for the rising salt content of our water is the construction of projects such as the Farakka Barrage in India, which diverts water from the Ganges to irrigate Indian soil. This causes the flow of water to slow, thus raising salinity. In addition, the number of shrimp farms in fresh water causes salinity to rise. All of this has an adverse effect on our soil and groundwater. All of this reduces our precious fresh water. All of this could easily be addressed by proper planning and infrastructure development.
The old system, the empire, capitalism, feudalism, are all rotten to the core. The Awami League, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the Islamists, etc. have no real solutions. Our lives mean nothing to the Old Power. Our children are poisoned every single day. Every time they drink, days are being stolen from their lives. When they steal our water, they steal our lives. We raise our fists. They have no right to steal our lives, the lives of our children and our children’s children. Our future is our own. Together, we can take back our lives. We have the organization, the science, the leadership to really win. There is path to our future. Follow the Leading Light. Be the Leading Light. Our sun is rising. Our day is coming.