Jamuna Barsha Sharma
Pokhara: To elongate the life span of the Fewa Lake in Pokhara, the concerned local authorities are considering roping in the local communities to effectively step up conservation efforts of the famed lake.
The Water Resources and Irrigation Development Division Office, Kaski district has started reducing the water level of the freshwater lake to excavate the heaps of soil and silt that have mounted in it and its basin leaving it in a sorry state for many years now.
Repair of the 46-feet long dams around the lake is underway after 42 years of its construction. The seasonal streams merging with the lake have been dumping silt, soil and garbage into it further deteriorating its condition.
There are nine lake clusters in Pokhara that were nominated as 10th Ramsar site of Nepal in 2016. Fewa Lake is one among them and has remained one of the major natural landmarks of Pokhara also known as the 'Lake City.' The lake, once-upon-a-time, was so clean that it was known to show the clear reflection of magnificent image of Mt Machhapuchhare in its pristine water.
The lake which sprawls across 10,000 ropani (5.08 square kilometers) as per the latest report submitted to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been shrinking due to rapid urbanisation, unchecked encroachment and natural erosion among others. The shrinking lake lately has been a grave cause of concern among the locals and local authorities alike.
Man Bahadur GC, Mayor of Pokhara Metropolitan City, said that they would take decisions on the excavation of lake's soil, silt and mud after collecting recommendations from the experts.
"Currently, we have lowered the water level of the lake to make new dams and repair the old ones. The height of silt, mud and soil deposited into the lake has been 9 meters. The Metropolis has taken this issue very seriously," said Mayor GC.
According to him, it would take at least two months to construct new dams in five places along the lake. "We should not commence excavation drive haphazardly for it could have adverse impact on the amphibians and vegetation in and around the lake," he asserted.
Heritage conservation activist Ram Bahadur Poudel said that this season is the right time to dig out the mud, soil and silt dumped into the lake and breathe a fresh life into the dying lake. "Fewa Lake is the jewel of Pokhara. We should timely excavate the soil inside it to prolong its lifespan," he opined.
He viewed that the excavation drive should be conducted in participation of the local communities.
Pokhara Tourism Council's President Gopi Bahadur Bhattarai also echoes with Poudel. Bhattarai viewed that the soil and silt deposited into the lake should be excavated for its beautification. "We are ready to coordinate efforts with the government agencies for the excavation bid. We also welcome the proposal to rope in local community for the same."
Anup Gurung, Chief of Lake Conservation and Development Authority, seconded the opinion of Poudel and Bhattarai. According to Gurung, this is the right time for managing solid waste in the lake and excavating silt, soil and mud deposited in it. He pressed for a coordinated effort among the experts, local authorities and locals for the same.
Rajan Subedi of Institute of Forestry, Pokhara suggested to consider eco-friendly ways and means of excavation which would have less adverse impact on amphibians in the lake.
According to him, if the concerned authority could extract at least two to four meter of soil from the lake presently, it could lengthen its lifespan by few more years.
Gandaki Province Chief Minister Prithivi Subba argues that one should not be sentimental rather rational when it comes to conserving and managing the lake.
For the conservation of natural heritage and beautification of the lake, he pointed out the need to consider experts' recommendations and move ahead with a sustainable development plan.