Choki Wangmo | Dagana

Plans are underway to revive drying lakes in Dagana dzongkhag which is expected to address drinking and irrigation water shortages in three gewogs in the district.

The residents of Gozhi gewog are hopeful that their water woes will be resolved when Jorpokhori lake would be revived by June next year.

Due to shortage of drinking and irrigation water, about 50 households in the upper Gozhi chiwog couldn’t cultivate paddy for years.

A resident, Sherub, who formed a committee to revive the lake in the initial days said that by the time he resettled in Gozhi 11 years ago, the lakes had started to dry up. “The lakes were reduced to tiny ponds since then.”

Only one of the four lakes remain

He said that volunteers carried out works to clean the lakes and religious figures installed lubums in the lakes. “With the help of the forest officials, we planted about 9,000 trees but it was a slow initiative. Limited resources also impacted us.”

Currently, Green Bhutan Corporation Limited has started reforestation activities in the vicinity of the lakes.

Worried by the rapid drying up of these lakes, the gewog administration informed the dzongkhag.

According to the dzongkhag environment officer, Karma Dorji Jimba, 70 percent of the lakes have dried and are infested with weeds. “There is immediate need for revival as there are no water sources for the upper Gozhi chiwog.”

He said that the Nu 3.5 million-project would be carried out using a community-based approach. “Weeds and debris will be removed with locally available materials involving the communities.”

The project also includes lake revival works in Dogag and Drujeygang gewogs in Dagana.

Meanwhile, of the four lakes, also known as Sherpa Lakha tsho, one has totally dried up while another is covered in weeds and undergrowth.

Sherub said villagers looked for drinking water sources but couldn’t find any. “We need to clean up the debris in the lake. We want to revive paddy cultivation as we cannot leave our land fallow.”

According to residents, reviving the lakes could also benefit the residents in Tshendagang and Gerserling gewogs.

Gozhi mangmi, Santa Bahadur Subba, said that in desperation, volunteers have come forward in the past to clear the lake but couldn’t do much.

Dagana’s National Council member, Surjaman Thapa, who has supported the revival works said that without glacial lakes, people in the southern foothills have to depend on spring water for drinking and irrigation water. “If we recharge these lakes, springs will be recharged. Acres of lands can be irrigated and we will be able to solve drinking water problems.”

Edited by Tashi Dema