Siltation dam of Phewa lake collapses within two months of constructionPhewa Lake is shrinking every year, mainly due to siltation caused by around 50 rivulets that feed it, say geologists.
A siltation dam at Khahare Khola in Ward No. 23 of Pokhara Metropolis has suffered damage within two months of its construction. This has raised questions on the quality of the work and construction materials used while building the infrastructure.
The dam was constructed by the Gandaki Provincial Government and Pokhara Metropolitan City Office under the Phewa Lake Conservation Campaign to stop silt deposition in the lake. According to geologists, Phewa Lake is shrinking every year, mainly due to siltation deposited by around 50 rivulets that feed it. Until 1957, the lake covered an area of around 10 sq km. The measurement in 2007 showed that its area had shrunk to a mere 4 sq km.
Bharat Bhandari, a resident of Pokhara-23 and also a ward member, said the main siltation dam of Khahare Khola collapsed in the last few days.
“We went to the ward office, metropolitan city office and the contractor’s office and questioned the standard of the dam but we did not get any response,” said Bhandari. “The collapse of the dam so soon after its construction shows substandard materials were used in its construction.”
According to Bhandari, around 20 metres of the dam wall and its inner surface have already been swept away.
“The contractor seems to have used more soil than sand while building the foundation of the dam,” he said.
Shreeram Bhandari, the project’s supervisor, said a metre-deep hole has developed in the foundation of the dam. “The entire dam is at risk of collapsing any day now,” he said .
Bimal Acharya, an engineer at the metropolis, said his office has been informed about the damage in some parts of the dam.
“We have not inspected the area yet and cannot give further details until we conduct a field visit,” said Acharya.
The project was contracted to Krishna PK JV, a contractor company, with a budget of around Rs 90 million.
“Although the construction work of the dam has been completed, the project has not been handed over yet,” engineer Acharya said. “We have already informed the contractor about the damage. They will repair the dam and hand it over to us.”
According to him, monsoon rains and flood waters caused damage to the dam.
On April 29, 2018, the Supreme Court had ordered the Pokhara Metropolis, National Lake Development Conservation Committee and Pokhara Valley City Development Committee to conserve the Phewa lake by constructing check and siltation dams within three years to stop siltation deposition. The Court had also given the responsibility of the lake’s conservation to the provincial and federal governments.
However, the dam construction campaign only started after around 20 months of the Court’s order. Dams have been constructed at Ghatichhina in Harpan Khola, Betayani Khola, Lauruk and Khahare Khola. The Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment of Gandaki Province and Pokhara Metropolis have invested around Rs 281 million for the construction of the dams.
Although the contractors were given a year’s deadline to complete the project, most of them completed it within six months. “The contractors used substandard materials and worked in a hurry. That’s why the dams are weakly built,” said Bharat Bhandari, a resident of Pokhara-23.
Meanwhile, Sharada Mohan Kafle, senior engineer at the metropolis, said, “The metropolitan office plans to stop silt deposition by constructing check and siltation dams in the major rivulets that feed Phewa lake. We are going to inspect the dams on Friday, and will give further details after the visit.”
Chief Minister of Gandaki Province Prithvi Subba Gurung had laid the foundation stone for the construction of check and siltation dams in the third week of December last year.