Last week’s catastrophic landslides in Kaski District triggered by heavy downpours deposited a huge amount of debris in Phewa Lake, filling up its shallower parts. With this, the already diminishing area of the lake is expected to diminish further.
Floodwater and massive landslides at Kaskikot, Bhadaure Tamagi and Dhikur Pokhari brought boulders, mud and logs rolling down into the lake. The lake water is now full of mud and has a yellowish look.
According to Amrit Sharma, ranger at District Forest Office Kaski, around 35 hectares of land at Tarepaharo Community Forest at Dhikur Pokhari Ward Nos. 2 and 9 were swept away by flooding and deposited in the Phewa. Apart from this, the flooding also deposited debris from neighboring villages in the lake. Big logs and rocks are yet to be cleared from the lake water.
“The area of the lake has been shrinkng every year. We don’t know what quantity of debris has been deposited by this year’s flooding and landslides,” said Udyab Ghimire, chairman of Land Conservation Office, Kaski. “However, we can say for certain that it’s an overwhelming quantity.”
Almost 140,000 metric tons of debris from various rivers is reportedly deposited in the lake every year. This year, tens of thousands of debris has been deposited all at once, said Ghimire.
Kaski Chief District Officer Krishna Bahadur Raut said that the condition of the lake has been deteriorating year by year. “If this continues, we’ll not have any Phewa Lake left in the not so distant future,” he added.
Raut said haphazard use of dozers and excavators in the upper areas near the lake has also contributed significantly to the deteriorating condition of the lake. “Mixing sewage into the lake has made matters worse. If this continues, the lake will disappear very soon.”
Although building a check-dam upstream to reduce the debris flowing in from the Khahare River has been suggested, Raut said this idea has yet to be implemented.
“We have heard many speeches by various leaders on the importance of Phewa. The problem is the speeches are never followed by action,” Raut said, expressing his disappointment.