By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
Over the course of abuse and negligence, in recent time Fewa lake has lost much of its original charisma for which the lake was famous for. A recent flash flood, which was caused due to a huge landslide near Lumle, had blocked the Harpan & Andheri River.
When the embankment burst, it created a massive flash flood that Pokhara had never experienced before. It took the lives of many villagers and destroyed their houses leaving no traces in sight. The damage was unexpected and destructive.
The flash flood brought many trees and lots of debris with it and eventually dumped in Fewa Lake. As a result the water of Fewa Lake turned murky for over a month. Many logs and other rubbish remained floating on the surface of Fewa Lake. However, no efforts were made to remove debris from the lake.
It was certain more debris was deposited beneath the lake, and they must be removed urgently. If not then it is sure those debris will expedite sedimentation process much faster in days to come. It is so strange to note that there are over 100 organizations, which have been registered in the name of cleaning Fewa Lake, but not a single organization came forward to remove the debris from Fewa Lake. Such lackluster attitude of these organizations indicates that many of these organizations have been registered only to digest foreign aid.
Many people want to know that what the exact cause of the recent flash flood was. The flash flood did not only pollute Fewa Lake, it also killed many people and destroyed their property beyond imagination. Should we blame to nature for the loss of lives and destruction?
It will be completely erroneous if we blame to nature for the loss of lives and property. WE are actually responsible for the loss of lives and damage of property, as we have been exploiting nature mindlessly. As a result, nature has taken its own course to compensate the loss through natural calamities.
If we believe in what experts say then Fewa Lake might disappear in 30 years or even earlier. This is no doubt a very serious forecasting about Fewa Lake, a treasure of Pokhara. However, the truth cannot be denied. The reality is that Fewa Lake is being polluted regularly and even now. No concrete efforts have been taken to stop pollutions and encroachment of Fewa Lake. This is very unfortunate and disgusting indeed.
Every year during rainy season several landslides occur around the villages of Fewa Lake. Such landslides bring mud, logs and other filths to deposit in the lake. Flooded rivers from Pame also bring tons of mud and silt together. As a result a big part of Fewa Lake on the western side has already been converted into farmland.
Many local people have started planting paddy in the area, which was, until five years ago, covered with the water of Fewa Lake. This trend has still been going on unabatedly. The problem of hyacinths has become a chronic disease of Fewa Lake. Hyacinths keep on returning every year, which require a big budget to get rid of such obnoxious weeds. Small tributaries of Fewa Lake bring lots of trash and regularly deposit in Fewa Lake. Due to all this nowadays Fewa Lake has lost all its charm and beauty. The water of Fewa Lake has turned murky, difficult to believe where we could see an impression of Mt. Fishtail in the aquamarine water of Fewa Lake.
If we believe in what environment specialists say then every year about 142 hundred thousand metric ton mud, pebbles, sand and other materials deposit in the bottom of Fewa Lake. But this year it is believed that about one million metric ton solid materials have already deposited in Fewa Lake. If this trend is continued then we can easily count the life of Fewa Lake.
In order to conserve Fewa Lake, Nepal government had formed a three members committee in 2012. They were Bishwo Prakash Lamichhane, president of Pokhara City Development Committee, Basu Tripathi and Sundar Kumar Shrestha, tourism entrepreneurs.
Biswo Prakash Lamichhane had submitted a detailed report to Dr.Baburam Bhattarai. He was then prime minister of the country. The report had seriously raised some pertinent issues adhering to conserve Fewa Lake. The report stated that no physical construction of any kind should be allowed from 65 meters of the bank of Fewa Lake.
This way about 14km area comes within the periphery of Fewa Lake. However, overlooking the existing rules, about 2992 ropani land have been encroached and registered on various persons’ names. Those lands belong to the lake and the land must be annexed to Fewa Lake unconditionally. In the meantime, the government has turned deaf ears on the demands of the report, and the whole project lost in oblivion. This act itself shows lackluster attitude of the government.
There are about one dozen small rivers, which water regularly comes to Fewa Lake. These tributaries bring mud, pebbles and other filths and regularly deposit in Fewa Lake. “If we really want to protect Fewa Lake then it is utmost necessary to construct small dams at the major tributaries, which are responsible to pollute Fewa Lake.
Since we don’t have a dam to stop all debris coming from these tributaries, we must remove excess debris and mud from Fewa Lake, soon after the rainy season is over. Unfortunately, a huge landslide at Bhadaure and Tamagi did only make Fewa Lake’s condition go bad to worse.
It is believed that the recent flash flood might have deposited tons of wood and other trash at the basement of Fewa Lake. This act of nature has disturbed ecological system of Fewa Lake. The water of Fewa Lake has been muddied to such extent that we fear aquatic life of the lake might receive a serious threat” said Basu Tripathi, a leading tourism entrepreneur of Pokhara.
Despite the appalling condition of Fewa Lake, the local authority has not swung into action till date. They are looking at the plight of Fewa Lake more like a mute spectator. Even today many restaurants and hotels let pass sewage to Fewa Lake. Many times this issue has been raised but no action could have been taken against the perpetrators.
“There was a time when the water of Fewa Lake was so clear that we did not mind drinking it directly and it was healthy too” Amar Sapkota shared his childhood memory. “But nowadays even we don’t like holding its water in our hand, because it is too dirty. About 30 years ago Fewa Lake had a different shape and size, but today it has been deformed and distorted completely. For the conservation of Fewa Lake, the government should allocate about 50 crore yearly, but in the recent budget not a single penny has been set aside for Fewa Lake. This shows government’s apathetic attitude towards Fewa Lake”.
Hari Pahari, yet another prominent tourism entrepreneur of Pokhara, feels sorry at seeing the pathetic condition of Fewa Lake. “Before 1998 JICA a Japanese project had entered Nepal to protect Fewa Lake. According to the project the engineers wanted to pass Harpan and Andheri rivers through underground tunnel to mix with Fusre River. But in the course of time, all such projects could not have been materialized into reality. Today these rivers have become major pollutants of Fewa Lake” added Hari Pahari.
Fewa Lake bears utmost importance from tourism and environment point of view. We must be thankful to nature to have such a large lake in the downtown of Pokhara. There are over 100 organizations which have been registered in the name of cleaning Fewa Lake, but the condition of Fewa Lake has not improved over the years.
What should be done to protect Fewa Lake?
- A canal should be built across Fewa Lake from north to east meeting with Fusre River.
- Dams should be made on the major rivers flowing from the western and the Northern sides. These dams will deposit mud and garbage which can be removed after the rainy season is over.
- A buffer zone should be developed around Fewa Lake and for this annually about 50 crore should be allocated in the budged.
- About 2992 ropani land must be annexed to Fewa Lake, which has been registered on various people’s names.
- Those farmers who are living nearby Fewa Lake should be encouraged for regular farming including tree plantation and gardening.
- Without wasting a moment the government must establish the foundation of Fewa Lake Authority.
It is always easy to do business in the name of Fewa Lake. However, it is relatively more difficult to protect the lake from natural and physical causes. The recent decision of the government to permit a cable car service to Manakamana Darshan has raised the eyebrows of many people, who don’t want any politics in the name of Fewa Lake.
The government decision to operate a cable car service from Basundhara Park, Rani Ban to Shanti Stupa for 20 years lease has been opposed by the people of all walks of life. It is quite surprising that why the government has not paid any attention towards the negative impact on the existence of Fewa Lake and Rani Ban. In the meantime, Ministry of Transport has permitted to introduce double dicker boats in Fewa Lake. These boats will run on diesel, which will produce carbon monoxide.
The carbon monoxide will not only pollute the environment, but also the water of Fewa Lake. It might also kill aquatic animals there. Many tourism entrepreneurs and boating association have stood against the operation of double dicker boat in Fewa Lake.
Time has come that all Pokhareli people must stand together to fight against those corrupt people in the system, who want to use Fewa Lake for their vested interest. If much effort is not made to protect Fewa Lake, it is certain one day Fewa Lake might remain only in photographs.
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