Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, January 27-28, 2005
What is the extent of the spread – in the state and across India? How can this menace be contained? There is a clear need for close monitoring and quality checks of ground water, but is the government doing anything?
Taking up the issue with the regional media, the MRC organised a two-day workshop in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh). At the workshop the journalists were briefed about the arsenic contamination in the region, its likely causes and its spread, and its solution to facilitate understanding and reportage on the issue. The workshop brought under one roof mediapersons, policy experts, researchers, healthcare professionals and affected people to explain the key topical areas. The legislator from Ballia, Bharat Singh was the chief guest. Journalists were also apprised of the contamination spreading to Varanasi.
There were 30 participants in all with representation from leading vernacular papers of the region – Aj, Amar Ujala, Hindustan, Dainik Jagran, Swatantra Bharat – and correspondents of national dailies like The Hindustan Times, The Times of India. Besides, there was an enthusiastic response and participation from the students of the Madan Mohan Malaviya Institute of Hindi Journalism, Kashi Vidyapeeth.
The second day of the workshop was devoted to a tour of some arsenic-affected villages in Ballia district, where the participants witnessed the prevailing conditions first-hand. The students were given an opportunity to display their reporting and writing skills by involving them in a news report writing competition.
CSE released a comprehensive Media Briefing Paper on the workshop subject on this occasion. The Paper provided mediapeople with exhaustive reference material on arsenic and its spread, available mitigation technologies and a resource bank.