Neten Dorji | Trashigang

Yonphula Domestic Airport in Trashigang used to be home for a lake called Kamtsho.

The lake now is drying.

Locals say it used to be filled with water, over two acres of land, and it used to be full round the year.

Tenzin Dorji, 64, knows some bit about the lake.

He remembers seeing the lake in the middle of the meadow. “We were told by our elders that it was known to be the end of Dorji Phagmoi Latsho. The lake was considered as sacred.”

Some say the lake is the left leg of Meymey Dangleng, a powerful deity of this region.

Soon after development activities began with the construction of the domestic airport, he said that the lake below the runway of the airport began drying up.  It’s a little pond today.

“This whole area used to be filled with water then,” Sangay Thinley, 74 recalled, pointing to the places. The watermarks are there to substantiate his claim. It’s huge.  “There were ducks coming in then. Not anymore.”

Tsheten, 74, who is a security guard of the airport, said birds used to come to the lake before the airport came.

“Duck and migratory birds used to come in. We do not see them anymore,” he said. “Their habitats have gone. We destroyed them.”

And the local belief

The lake has been disturbed, the local priests say. People make offerings regularly but the lake continues to become smaller.

Tsheten said this happened after the construction of the airport.

“The lake brought us good fortune and we took care of it. Now it’s gone,” said Tenzin Dorji, a lay monk. “That’s probably why we have many man-made and natural problems like never before.”

The Department of Air transport is well aware of the situation and is trying to revive the lake with fund support from Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“We are also planning to remove all debris and refill the lake by diverting runoff water and supplying separate continuous water to the lake,” an airport official said.

Afforestation programme has already begun.