Urban encroachment is shrinking Rukum (West)’s popular lakeLocal residents blame authorities for not doing anything to stop haphazard construction. The local government says it is coming up with a master plan to conserve the lake.
Syarpu Lake, a major attraction of Banphikot Rural Municipality in Rukum (West), has been shrinking due to urban encroachment. However, the authorities concerned have taken no steps to protect the lake.
“Houses and other roads are being constructed close to the lake which has not only shrunk the lake’s size but also spoilt its beauty. People are also throwing solid waste in the lake. There will be no lake if such activities are not stopped immediately,” said Bhimu Dahal, a local resident.
A survey carried out a few years ago shows that Syarpu Lake is spread over 2.6 square kilometers. But over the years, Dahal and other local residents said the lake has become much smaller due to construction and the apathy of the local government.
The watershed area of the lake has also witnessed several landslides over the years, which conservationists say are the result of deforestation and unplanned construction projects.
To preserve the lake, conservationists say haphazard construction and deforestation at places like Dammana, Dhajahalne, Thumlek, Samija, Seta Pahira, Bodle, Nigalpani, Kalachula, Siubang, Simlek, Okhren, Simpatla, Netilek and Buki Odar should be stopped immediately.
In 2003, a massive landslide in the Sani Bodle area had fallen into the lake, sending the lake waters towards nearby homes and killing four people.
“That landslide was one of the important causes that caused the lake to shrink,” said Jokhu Khatri, another local resident.
Construction of a road closeby has also degraded the lake.
“The construction debris has further shrunk down the lake’s size,” said Sherbir Dahal, a local school teacher. “Syarpu Lake will soon be a thing of the past if conservation efforts are not initiated.”
Although the District Soil Conservation Office had introduced a master plan to conserve Syarpu Lake in 2011, it has not been implemented yet, said Gopal KC, a former member of the District Tourism Development Committee.
He blamed the local government and other authorities concerned for not taking the initiative to implement the master plan.
Syarpu Lake is located about 1.5km away from the office of Banphikot Rural Municipality. It attracts many domestic tourists, but the local government does not have any plan to conserve the lake.
“The local level election was held four years ago and the rural municipality office was set up nearby. We thought that the local government would conserve the lake. But it did nothing towards that end,” said Sangam Devkota, a local man.
Dharma Bahadur KC, chairman of Banphikot Rural Municipality, said the local unit was planning to come up with its own master plan for the conservation of Syarpu Lake.
“We will develop our own master plan to conserve the lake and promote it as a tourism destination,” he said.