Environment: Tshothang chiwog’s only lake, the Tshothang tsho in Lauri gewog dried up more than 60 years ago.

As time went on, the area lost its trees and a barren land greeted villagers every time they passed by.

Tsampa Tashi Peljor said that it was believed that the lake had left the area for Arunachal Pradesh in India.

“This is what we were told when we were young, and no one bothered to revive the lake after that,” he said. “That is, until Buli Tulku Rinpoche talked about the importance of reviving the lake.”

The villagers then sought the help of the dzongkhag administration and the UNDP.

With their help, a new retention wall was constructed and up to 10,000 cypress saplings planted in the area under the “Eco-system restoration at Zangthi and Tshothang” project by GEF and funded by UNDP.

Eventually, the lake reappeared.

A Khandro Yeshi Tshogyal statue was also constructed near the lake.

The lake was renamed “Pema Yeshi Lha Tsho,” and dedicated to His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo as part of the 60th Birth Anniversary celebrations last year.

“With this we hope our agriculture will also be revived because we believe that when the lake left the village, it affected our agriculture production too,” the tsampa said. “We also perform a tsechu at the lake now and we hope it will also serve as a water source in the future.”

However, the villagers are worried that the lake could dry up again. Water has started seeping away and the level of the lake has been falling.

“We’ve worked hard to revive the lake and we will not give up easily this time,” he said. “We’re trying to find options to solve the problem with the help of the dzongkhag forest officer,” he added.

“We’ve plans to fill the seepage holes with cement and everyone is willing to contribute labour.”

However, more than 100 bags of cement will be required.

“UNDP has already given us 20 bags of cement and we’re trying to look for more bags,” the tsampa said. “We hope we can otherwise the lake will dry up again.”

A dzonkhag official said that the lake will be renovated but only after the monsoon is over.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Jomotsangkha