Choki Wangmo | Dagana
Dagaps have strong cultural connection to the numerous lakes in the dzongkhag. But many have dried up in recent years.
As the four lake revival works are complete in Gozhi gewog, the residents are not only thrilled but are expecting that they would finally see the end of water shortage problem in their gewog.
Dagana’s National Council member, Surjaman Thapa, who first initiated the revival works, installed lubums at Sharpalakha Tsho or Jhorpokhori (twin lakes) in Gozhi Toed and Dungkar Tsho or Haree Pokhari in Dogak Gozhi gewog yesterday.
The revival works, which started towards the end of last year with removal of debris and weeds from the lakes, were carried out with the support of the dzongkhag administration and volunteers from the communities.
Revival works were carried out for a month.
Residents hope that the acute water shortage in Gozhi Toed would be solved. Without a water source, about 16 households in the chiwog use water from their neighbours in other chiwogs.
The chairman of the initiative, DB Sherpa, said that people couldn’t irrigate their agricultural land due to water shortage. “The problems started in 2007.”
Tej Raj and his friends have fond memories of the lakes. He said that the area nearby the lakes used to be pastureland and even buffalos were seen in the lakes. As the trees were planted and the lakes were fenced, he said that the water started drying up. “With lake ecosystems disturbed, animals begin to disappear and the lakes were filled with weeds.”
Another resident said that as a child she fetched drinking water from the lake.
Gozhi Gup Kinzang Tobgay said that the lakes slowly dried up due to lack of care. “In the future, we hope that we can source our drinking water from these lakes.”
He said that the gewog administration had put up a request to district engineering sector to study feasibility of finding a water source for Gozhi Toed at Chichibi.
Surjaman Thapa said that unlike other regions in the country, the southern foothills don’t have glacial-fed water sources.
“While growing up, there were many water sources in our villages. But as the sources dried up, there are issues caused by water shortage in our localities,” he said.
As the lakes are revived, it will not only solve water shortage but will also reduce human wildlife conflicts. “In the future, there are plans to plant fruit trees in the area.”
According to local beliefs, in the olden days, a pair of birds cleaned this lake by picking up leaves from the lakes.
Dungkar Tsho revival works were also completed recently. According to beliefs, it was named thus as the lake is in the shape of a conch shell, or Haree in the southern dialect as it is container-shaped.
Local residents say that more than 50 years ago, the lake was taken care of by Sadhus. Sadhu Kuti (Gomchen Ney) is located six-minutes away from the lake.
The lakes, according to locals, started drying up due to road construction works.
Hydrological analysis of the lakes carried out by an expert at the College of Natural Resources revealed that these lakes are mostly spring recharging zones; when lakes are refilled, springs in lower regions will also be rejuvenated.
“An analysis of hydrogeological mapping revealed that lakes in Jorpokhari are interconnected, and the revival of one lake would support the revival of the others,” the analysis report stated.
However, one of the lakes in Jorpokhari has completely dried up, and its rejuvenation would be expensive, the report stated.
The analysis showed that a restoration strategy for these lakes involves clearing catchment areas, rerouting surface runoff, deepening or dredging the lake bed, and harvesting biomass, as these lakes are infested with Schoenoplectus mucronatus sedges.
The lake revival initiative in the dzongkhag will be complete at the cost of Nu 3 million.