Impacts of Environmental Change: A Study of Fewa Lake

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In this article, we will explore the impacts of environmental changes that take place in Nepal’s Fewa Lake. Despite being a beautiful place in the world, Pokhara is struggling against an environmental crisis at the moment.

Introduction

This research paper explores the analysis of Fewa Lake situated in the south of Pokhara Valley that includes the lake; parts of Sarangkot and Kaskikot. The lake is stream-fed but a dam regulates the water reservoir, therefore, the lake is classified as a semi-natural freshwater lake. It is the second-largest lake in Nepal and the largest is Begnas Lake in Gandaki Zone. It is the most popular and most visited lake in Nepal. It is the only lake in Nepal which has a temple at the central part of the lake, natively called Barahi Temple. Fewa Lake is located at an altitude of 742 m (2,434 ft) and covers an area of about 4.43 km2 (1.7 sq mi). It has an average depth of about 8.6 m (28ft) and a maximum depth of 24 m (79 ft). Maximum Water capacity of the lake is approximately 43,000,000 cubic metres (35,000 acres. Ft). The Annapurna range on the north is only about 28 km (linear distance) away from the lake.

The lake is also famous for the reflection of Mount Machhapuchhre and other mountain peaks of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges on its surface. The Taal Barahi Temple is situated on an island in the lake. The beauty of Fewa Lake has been eulogized by many singers, Gandharva, poets, writers and naturalists. The surrounding environment of Fewa Lake is so rich and vivacious that it has further enhanced the ecstatic beauty of Fewa Lake. Tourists remain mesmerized when they see the image of Mt. Machhapuchhre reflected in the aquamarine water of Fewa Lake.

Pokhara is the second most popular destination in the country, where Annapurna treks along with the beauty of Fewa Lake attracts the tourist. It would be wrong to think that Fewa Lake is merely a popular tourist spot. It is much more than what meets the eyes. Fewa Lake is the abode of several species, including some migratory birds which come from as far as Siberia. Besides that, even today many fishermen and boaters make their living by Fewa Lake. Hoteliers, restaurants, guides, local entrepreneurs, and many other people directly or indirectly rely on Fewa Lake.

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Cruz of the Discussion begins right away

However, these words, though true, sounds unrealistic today. Tall concrete buildings around the Fewa Lake have been reduced its beauty to a large extent. People still wash clothes at its bank; by stealing the eyes, hoteliers and restaurants owners don’t mind throwing rubbish into the lake. As a result, the lake is being polluted from all sides. Over the last two decades or so, regular silt and garbage depositing at the bottom of the lake has reduced its depth considerably. On top, hyacinths have only added more woes to Fewa Lake, making things only bad to worse. These obnoxious weeds do spread rapidly and cover a larger area in no time.

All these activities make impossible to catch a glimpse of Machhapuchhre in the waters in Fewa Lake. These leaves visitors not only disappointed but also cheated; because they have read a lot about the heavenly beauty of Fewa Lake. This highly adamant water hyacinth was first seen in Fewa Lake in 1990. Soon after then, it started spreading rapidly, damaging tourism, fishery, and the natural existence of the lake itself. It creates all kinds of problems by clogging waterways and shipping the passages. It thrives on the water surface and spreads far quicker than we think of. It has the capacity to reduce a huge lake into a marsh only if adequate action is not taken in time. Moreover, dead leaves and roots of hyacinths sunk below and deposit there.

The weed has already posed a serious threat to the existence of Fewa Lake. If concrete action is not taken soon, possibly Fewa Lake might dry up and disappear from our sight in the days to come. Fewa Lake has already been reduced to 12 thousand ropani…reducing 0.18sq. km area in every two years. Due to regular silt deposit and hyacinths encroachment, the bank of the lake has turned marsh. Taking the advantage, some unscrupulous local people of the area have started paddy plantation on the encroached land. This is evident that in 1973 the Pardi Dam was broken and much of water of Fewa Lake was released. Taking the benefit, some influential people, most of them are the same people who now shed crocodile’s tears on the plight of Fewa Lake, registered much of the dry land on their names.

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Increasing use of chemicals by the local farmers has contaminated Fewa Lake that has posed a serious threat to the existence of several aquatic species. Sometime in the past scores of fishes were found dead in the lake. They did not die because of any disease, but due to contaminated waters. Laboratory test did confirm that the water in the lake was laced with some toxic elements. Sad to say that the villagers living nearby to the lake have still not stopped using chemicals and pesticides.

Such a pristine beauty of Fewa Lake has been shrinking fast only due to lack of coordination among the local bodies over the management of Fewa Lake. How we can expect more out of Fewa Lake when the government tourism board and local entrepreneurs take the problems related to Fewa Lake for granted. The fact is that the Nepali Government has paid a little attention to conserve Fewa Lake and its surrounding environment. Fewa Lake has been the victim of government’s and local bodies’ negligence.  Interesting to note that there are over 26 different organizations registered in the name of keeping Fewa Lake neat and clean.

The pollution affects water quality in Fewa Lake and other freshwater resources around the globe. It can take many forms from industrial, agricultural, or municipal sources; a few common examples include pesticides, herbicides, sewage, and litter. It often contains high pollution levels relative to the surrounding landscapes and the environment. Rivers and streams drain Lakes pollutants from the landscape where they concentrate in Fewa Lake and other water bodies. Aquatic species such as fish can be extremely high in contaminants as some pollutants don’t readily dissolve and dilute in water and are instead taken up into organisms. Some species of aquatic organisms are particularly sensitive to pollution; they are used as indicators of pollution and are called bioindicators. Because lakes drain a large surrounding landscape, they reflect the processes and actions that operate around them. When chemicals are spilled, they can drain into nearby streams and be transported downstream into lakes.

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By mentioning all these pros and cons about the Fewa Lake, it’s not only the means of tourism and matter for entertaining, but it is also the economic source for Pokhara Lekhnath Metropolitan Administration and other peoples’ lives too. Similarly, the temple in the middle of the lake known as ‘Taal Baharahi’ is also the source of religious believers and prayers. But, day by day business mind of people becoming selfish and they are only paying their attention to their business for money and the tourists from internal and external parts around the glove also seem very free. So, it causes more problem for the degradation of the natural periphery of the lake. For this instance, the lake runner administration and committee also seem totally ignorance to such problems. And, nowadays the question is arousing that later on after some decades whether the existence of lake be instinct or not. And recently, the national news agencies are flashing the news about the illegal structures around the atmosphere of Fewa Lake. And the case has come to the Supreme Court for discussion. So, such illegal and immature behavior of the valley cannot give the identity of civilized and natural Pokhara Valley and also it may lead to an obstacle to welcome more tourists as expected. And one thing should everybody has to remember is to save the Fewa Lake not only a natural resource but also the way of a survivor for hundreds.

In conclusion, there is a slogan in Pokhara ‘Save Lake Save Pokhara’. Being Pokherli, I am much concerned about the natural beauty of my home town and want to encourage all the local people along with the internal along with the external tourist that if we can’t preserve much about the lake, then we should not even pollute it. It’s the natural beauty of Pokhara which is god gifted. Fewa lake can be considered as the cause of Pokhara’s business. Without Fewa Lake, the beauty of the city is no more sweetness.

Reference source:

  1. Wikipedia- Fewa lake

Written by Bandana Malla

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