POKHARA, April 24: The shrinking of Fewa Lake in Pokhara, one of the most popular tourist destinations, has come to the government´s notice for the first time. A government committee has begun studying human encroachment and other natural changes that cause the lake to shrink.
The five-member committee, formed two months ago, started field study from Monday and visited the lake area. The committee members were also accompanied by journalists.
The committee formed by the government is headed by Bishwa Prakash Lamichhane with hotelier Sundar Shrestha, former Nepal Tourism Board member Basu Tripathi, and representatives from Kaski District Administration Office and Pokhara Sub Metropolitan Office as members.
Lamichhane, who is a former head of the Pokhara Valley Development Committee, citing a 2008 government study said the lake, which covered 22,000 ropanis of land in the past has now shrunk to 9,955 ropanis. More than half of the lake´s land has now been encroached.
Lamichhane also said encroachment of the lake´s land has become rapid in the last four years. "The lake´s land has been registered in individuals´ names at the Land Revenue Office." Though there is a provision of seeking prior permission from the Pokhara Valley Development Committee (PVDC) before transacting the land situated around three kilometers west from the lake and one kilometer to the left and right side of the lake, the Land Revenue Office has been found ignoring the provision.
A study conducted by Silt Consultant with the help of JICA showed that the lake is becoming buried along the edges by 142,000 tons of sand. According to the report, every year 0.18 Sq. Km. of lake gets buried. The report has also warned that the lake might be extinct within 75 to 100 years if human encroachment and the process of siltation are not checked.
PVDC records show the lake covered 984 hectares in 1960 but it had shrunk down to 443 hectares by 1998.
According to the 2008 land demarcation, the area covered by water in the lake was 555 hectares. As the lake shrunk due to silting, people have been grabbing the reclaimed land for farming. The reclaimed land measures 2001 ropanis.
The sand, stones, and other solid particles get deposited in the lake when the surrounding rivers like Harpan swell during the monsoon causing the lake to shrink progressively.