By Smita Adhikari, Pokhara, July 22: With every rainy season, Rupa Lake of Kaski had been growing and swallowing the land around its shores.
This has been causing millions of rupees of losses to the locals, especially the farmers who lose huge chunks of their agricultural fields to the lake every year.
Now, the people are worried – not for their land but for the lake. They are worried that the sediment accumulating as a result of the swallowed land and from the debris being brought by the different rivers feeding it will cause Rupa Lake to dry up.
They express their worry on social networking sites and during public discussions. The residents of the area fear that, if nothing is done, we might lose Rupa Lake forever, and with it, one of the most beautiful and biodiverse water bodies of Pokhara and the country.
According to the Biodiversity Information Centre, located in Sundaridanda, Pokhara Metropolitan City–31, the area of Rupa Lake has shrunk by one and a half kilometres since 1973.
Building on past studies which have conclusively shown that Rupa Lake is shrinking, Lake Expert and Professor of Geo-Engineering Basanta Raj Adhikari and his team conducted a study in 2011 where he analysed the reasons behind the shrinkage.
He found that the rampant and haphazard use of excavators and bulldozers on the surrounding hills and the local bodies’ disregard for conducting proper environmental impact analyses before implementing development works were contributing to the shrinkage of the lake.
“There are published reports explaining why Rupa Lake is drying fast but the authorities do not pay heed to them,” Adhikari complained.
Meanwhile, to conserve the lake, the Department of Water Resources and Irrigation of the Government of Nepal has been implementing the Rupatal Conservation Integrated Development Project for the past four years.
Talking with The Rising Nepal, Chief Tulsi Ram Bhattarai said that the project had been working to control the problem of siltation by constructing structures like check dams, revetment walls, bed bars, conservation ponds and desilting basins.
"May be by 2023, the problems related to Rupa Lake will be solved and the lake will become double the size it is now," Bhattarai said.