Kavilvastu lakes await conservation effortsLakes carrying historical and archaeological significance in the district have been shrinking due to utter negligence of the authorities concerned.
The Jagdishpur lake at Niglihawa-1 and 4, located 11 kilometres east from the district headquarters, is supposedly the largest man-made lake in the country. The lake, which also is a habitat to a variety of aquatic birds, has been shrinking every year due to the lack of proper sanitation and conservation efforts.
According to Ram Krishna Ghorasaini, engineer at the Western Regional Irrigation Development Division, water in the lake has decreased to three million qubic metres though it was built with a capacity to hold 4.7 million qubic metres.
The lake is constructed to collect water brought from a barrage at Laxmanghat, where the Bandaganga and Koili rivers converge, for irrigation.
The lake, however, has been narrowing due to sand flowing in with water. Buddhu Kewat, a local resident, said water level in the northern side of the lake has risen by 3 to 4 metres due to sand and mud deposits.
A study conducted by the Bird Conservation Nepal showed that the lake spread over 157 hectares is habitat to more than 108 bird species, eight species of amphibians and 38 species of reptiles. Hemsagar Baral, a senior ornithologist, said the silt collection in the lake has threatened the bio-diversity.
Likewise, Ajigara Lake located 25 kilometres west from Taulihawa at Ajigara and Bhilmi VDCs has fallen victim to human encroachment. The lake spans over approximately 17 hectares. Due to rampant encroachment by locals, the lake has reduced to one-fourth its original size. Local people have cultivated paddy and wheat on the encroached land. The lake is habitat to approximately 42 species of birds.
Similar is the fate of Sagarahawa Lake located nine kilometers east from Taulihawa. The lake with immense archaeological significance is on the verge of extinction due to human encroachment. Located at Niglihawa VDC, the lake was originally spread over 10 hectares of land. Presently, the lake has been reduced to about five hectares of land. According to senior archaeologist Basanta Bhandari, the lake is believed to be the site where Birudhhak, son of King Prasenjeet of Kaushal, enraged by the deceit of the Shakyas—who had tricked the King into marrying a slave’s daughter—had slaughtered thousands of Shakyas. Presently, landless people have built houses on the encroached land belonging to the lake.
Likewise, Sekhuniya Lake built 18 years ago for irrigation in the locality by bringing water from the Jabai river has also dried up due to lack of conservation. The lake which covered 400 hectares has turned into grassland. Local resident Mohrat Kurmi said villagers have been using the land for cultivation after it dried up.