After coastal areas of Khulna, Bagerhat and Satkhira, saline water has now invaded Jashore, which is usually known for its freshwater, with salinity in some areas exceeding twice the tolerable level for humans.
According to Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) officials, the salinity level in water in Jashore'sKeshabpurupazila was recorded at 1430 microsiemens per centimetre in August 2021, whereas the tolerant level is regarded to be only 670 microsiemens.
The data also suggest an alarming rise in salinity in the area's water worsening an already dire situation.
The salinity level in Keshabpur's water was recorded at 879 microsiemens per centimetre in 2016, said Sohail Hasan, an assistant engineer at BADC Jashore.
BADC's data is based on analysis of water from six observation tube wells in different upazilas of the district to assess arsenic and salinity level in the region's water.
According to the data, the salinity level in water has crossed the tolerance level in other areas of the district as well, including Manirampur and Abhaynagar.
The data shows salinity level in Manirampur has been recorded at 1071 microsiemens per centimetres last year, while in Abhaynagar salinity level has been found between 900-1000 microsiemens per centimetre over the last 5 years.
Water salinity has been a common phenomenon in the coastal areas of Bagerhat, Satkhira, and Khulna for years now where the salinity level has far exceeded the tolerant level, creating an appalling crisis of drinking water in the region.
With the same situation in Jashore now, experts fear for the health of the residents in the region as well as a harrowing impact on agriculture.
Professor KM Delwar Hossain of the Department of Environment and Science at Jessore University of Science and Technology (JUST) said that the human body needs a certain amount of salt and it comes from food and water. The amount of salt in the water in Jashore is very high and will increase health risks for people, especially for pregnant women.
Prof Saibur Rahman Mollah, chairman of the department, said climate change is inducing the rise in saline water in the districts.
He said seawater is increasingly entering Jashore due to various climate change-induced calamities. However, this saline water cannot return to the sea due to a lack of insufficient rivers. As a result, the amount of water salinity is increasing.
Meanwhile, although the salinity level in water continues to rise and poses a threat to public health and agriculture, no major action has been taken by the government to tackle the crisis.
However, officials of the Department of Public Health Engineering said they are working to ensure safe water in Jashore.
Work has started to install two to three tube wells in each village of the district and has been ongoing since the fiscal 2019-20, they said.
Zahid Parvez, executive engineer, Department of Public Health Engineering, Jessore, said work is underway to set up 26 tube wells in each union under a project on safe water supply throughout the country.
"Deep tube wells are being installed in the Manirampur, Keshabpur and Abhaynagar areas of the district through this project. Safe water is being ensured in areas with high arsenic or salinity in water by installing special filters in the tube wells," he added.