Fewa Lake and Tourism in Pokhara
Pokhara has obtained popularity as one of the top tourist destinations in Nepal due to numerous Himalayan ranges, holy temples, cultural heritages, rivers and streams, flora and fountains, strange caves, linguistic and cultural diversity, etc. Pokhara is also with its identify as a city of nine lakes namely Begnas, Nyureni, Gunde, Khshte, Rupa, Maidi, Dipang, and Fewa (Bhadgaonle 2006). Amidst these nine lakes, Fewa is the biggest one in Pokhara valley and the second largest in Nepal. Pokhara covers an area of 123 square kilometres and lies towards the north-east belt of the Fewa Lake.
There are wide ranging significances of Fewa Lake from natural, religious, economic, and social perspective in Pokhara (Lamichhane 2005; Shakya 1995; Thapa 2010). This lake is supposed to support local business and trade largely in the Baidam or Fewa Lake side area. Fewa Lake is also the source of Fewa lake lrrigation System for 232 hectares of land and production of 1,000 KW of electricity at Pardi Dam which is the outlet of Fewa Lake (Oli 1997).
This lake is also place where dozens of organizations and their unions have participated directly or indirectly. Because of the specific type of geographical structure and special kind of hilly environment, Fewa Lake has given comforts and lives to the numerous water creatures and animals since time immemorial. It has been the source of employment, income, livelihood, foreign currency earnings, prosperity, peace, and the beauty to human life. The Phirke stream area of Fewa Lake side is also the location of various government buildings, guest house of Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City, armed police force camp and other settlements.
There have been increased debates, and discussions on the issue of its proper management relating to tourism. However, a knowledge gap remains on the interface of Fewalake with tourism in Pokhara. In this context, this chapter attempts to address following questions about Fewa Lake in its relationship with tourism;
- What is the state of Fewa Lake in relations to historical aspects, geographic features, demographic elements, vegetations, and other attributes like flora and fauna?
- How is Fewa Lake interrelated with tourism in Pokhara ?
- What are the challenges faced by Fewa Lake in relation to tourism ?
- What is the future prospect of Fewa Lake for promoting tourism in Pokhara ?
Methodologically, the information for this chapter formulation is derived from the review of literatures on Fewa Lake and its interrelated tourism management issues. The conversation with the local people of varied ages (young and old), tourists and other visitors about the management aspects of this Lake have also been input in formulating this chapter. The information of this chapter is largely based on the knowledge gained for the study and investigation by this author for his upcoming book titled SamagraBaidammaFewalake (Fewa Lake in totality).
2. State of Fewa Lake
This section covers historical review of the existence of Fewa Lake, including the story related to its naming, and its key features like location, structure, area, demographic aspects, geographic elements, and aquatic habitats.
2.1 Historical overview of the existence of Fewa Lake
According to one faction of geologists, the history of Pokhara is 700-11,000 years old. There are mainly two different outlooks about the formation of Fewa Lake in Pokhara. One is the argument of scientists and geologists. The other is various legends and histories. The geologists calculate that the history of Fewa Lake must be between 700-2000 years old. However, it is very difficult to pinpoint the accurate shape, size, and location of this Lake at the beginning. Before the existence of Fewa Lake the whole area is believed to be filled with water. However, only few ponds and lakes had existed due to the geographical change in course of time. According to some experts and academicians like Dr. HarkaGurung, Dr. BishwaShrestha, Dr. DevendraBahadurLamichhane and Dr. Krishna KC, the reason of the birth of Fewa Lake is similar to other lakes. Earlier the breaking of a glacier in snowy area during 2,500-3,200 B.C. is believed to be the origin of Seti River and the dreg and the snow-soil of Ice Lake might have buried the low levels of Pokhara and in the same process, many tributaries of Seti River like Phurse, Yamdi, Bijaypur, Harpan, and Khahare happened to be dammed. This thus gave birth to dozens of the Lakes in Pokhara valley.
Dr. DevendraBahadurLamichhane (Lamichhane 2005, p 6) says ‘ All the Lakes in Pokhara are still alive. The then buried and plain because of snow dreg and soil caused by the break of glacier, the consistent flow of the active rivers turned Pokhara into ditches and canyon’.
There are talks of folklores (myths) and legends about the formation of Fewa Lake. Though most of them do not offer scientific evidences, however, some of them seem to be reaching near the truth on the basis of scientific inquiry. One common legend3mentions that Fewa Lake was located at Thumki area some 300-400 years ago. Thumki area lies 15 kilometers towards the north of present HallanChowk in Baidam area. Later, the sandy soil gradually kept on pushing to southward. When the lake was at Thumki, a lower village known as GairiGaun (Lower Village) was situated towards the south side of today’s Barahi temple. One day, a Yogi, in guise of hermit came to the village for a night stay. But, no one welcomed him. Hardly an old woman hosted the yogi. The yogi got up early morning at 3-4 am and bade good bye to the old mother. While leaving, the hermit suggested the old woman not to stay in that village because a huge catastrophe would approach and also suggested to lock under the pillow in his bed. When the old mother went there and looked, she found that the bread made of up husk which she had given the hermit to eat had turned into a golden ball.
The old mother informed all villagers about the yogi’s forecast of the upcoming catastrophe. But the villagers did not believe her. She left the village. By the morning, the village had turned into a Lake. Regarding the very subject, the other myth says, the village turned into a lake after a week as the old woman and the hermit left the village.
It was not known where the hermit and the old woman went. Some heard that they went toward the hill. SuryanthAdhikari heard the saying that they disappeared in today’s KedareashswarMahadevmani area. HomBahadurLamichhane (aged 75) too indicates to the same legend that the Fewa Lake was founded out GairiGaun. The findings of some household things like roots, logs, grinders, and Dhikis(ancient domestic means to husk rice/husker) and other antiques, in the very place of GairiGaun area at Pardi during the excavation of the present dam in 2014 B.S. (1957 A.D) gives some scientific evidence.
However, Dr. DevendraBahadurLamichhane argues that one should not believe in such legends. According to him “There is no scientific truth that there was a village in the place where the current Fewa Lake exists because there was no residential village in Pokhara at that time. Some 50-60 years ago, because of epidemic of malaria, there were a very few houses in Pokhara, how can we believe that there was a village? So far as the finding of Dhiki and grinder is concerned, it is likely that landslide floated them from the village on the top of the hills”.
2.1.1 How was Fewa Lake named?
For all, it is the matter of curiosity how the lake was named as Fewa Lake. To pose a question how it was named is such an easy matter, but it is equally difficult to get the factual details and information about its naming because till the date no historical evidence and no scientific evidences (e.g. slate inscription or achieves) have been found. However, some vague legends are available which are highlighted below.
There used to be a village in north side of Barahi temple. It was the residential area of the Fewali People. Later, the village was drowned. Accordingly, it is believed that the lake was named as Fewa because the lake was settled in the place which the Fewalis once inhabited. While others have listened to different stories, Fewalis were also found in Swargadwari, and the Fewali claimed that their ancestors migrated from the Fewa Lake. However, there is no source that can scientifically prove it.
According to another hearsay4 there used to be a residence of porters towards the north side of the current lake. The maternal lineage gave the poor porters with some land which they cultivated to support their livelihoods. The porters deemed the land as pewa (special belonging) from the maternal house. In course of time, the world pewakhet (specially belonged cultivated land) underwent a change and became FewaKhet. The Lake settled just below the FewaKhet, therefore, begun to be called Fewa Lake.
According to another story5, the streams that flowed from the north side of the lake used to float inconsistently from here and there by rounding up, thus, the streams were called FeroKhola (rounded river). In course of time, the lake out of FeroKhola might have been called FewaTaal (Fewa Lake).
The other legend is associated with Newari people who are one of the ethnic people in this area. The Palikhe sub-groups of Newari people had a good amount of land in area surrounding present Fewa Lake. In Newari language, “Fe” means air and “Wa” means water. And the Fewa Lake area is not only offered with sufficient water but also the strong wind. Newaricommunity used these words to refer to the moment of approaching Hawa (air) with the newari word “fe” and paani (water) with the newari word “wa”. Thus the word was passed through the tradition. Similarly, the word ‘Fewa (Fe + Wa)” in Newari language also means hawaaau (call for air). Some people remark that in course of working in the field the Newars called for “Fewa” in order to invite the air, and therefore, the word came into existence.
For about the origin of the Lake still there are words like “Fewafaant” and “Fewakhola” in use, so it is understood that the “Fewa” word was used for “Taal” (Lake) just as the word was used as prefix to the Faant (field) and the Khola (river). The poet and cultural activist TirhaShrestha says “we have been hearing a song like “Waolafeolaajaaji ma ola” (water came, air blew but grandfather and grandmother did not come) since our childhood”. The words “fe” and “wa” were from the Newari language and later the word “Fewa” was formed out of these words. Perhaps the song was sung for the Newari grandfather and grandmothers and grandfathers who went to “Fewafaant”, therefore, we see a strong basis that the word came into existence from Newari culture as the Newar had good amount of land there.
However, all the above mentioned assumptions about the naming of Fewa Lake stemmed from the legends factural truth and scientific evidence of which are not really in existence. Therefore, there is an urge to make an extra intensive inquiry regarding how and when it was named, and who named it and why.
2.2 Key features of Fewa Lake
There are various of Fewa Lake which are discussed in succeeding paragraphs.
2.2.1 Location, structure and area
Fewa Lake is situated at south-west corner of Pokhara valley (from 2807′ to 28012′ north latitude and 8407′ to 84019′ east longitude) in Kaski district which is situated in the middle of the Mahabharat range (figure 12.1).
Geographically the Lake is flat. Administratively, the lake fully or partially touches six VDCs (Sarangkot, Kaskikot, Dhikurpokhari, BhadaureTamagi, Chapakot, and Pumdi-Bhumdi) and the south-west belt of Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City of Kaski district (Lamichhane 1998 as in Lamechhane and Upadhayay 2006, p 49).
The water area of the lake covers 4.43 square kilometers. The average depth of the lake is 8.6m and the maximum depth is 19m. its water-area keeps fluctuating because the water of is used to produce 1000 KW electricity and irrigation. It spreads 4 km from north-west to north-east. It spreads up 2 km and stretches up to 100m. The peripheral area of the lake is around 443 hectares. The Lake has water storage capacity of 46,000,000 cubic meters.
A high-level investigation and measurement held by Pokhara. Valley Lake Conservation Committee under the supervision of Pokhara Town Development Committee in 2065 B.S. (2008 A.D) showed that the total area of Fewa Lake is 546.5920 hectares. Out of this area, currently the water area is 9955-6-2-3 ropanis (506.4720) hectares) while the rest of the area 2754 ropanis (140 hectares) has already turned into agricultural and wet land as the lake has dried out. On the basis of these statistics, the area of Fewa Lake has narrowed by 2754 ropanis. Fewa Lake is extremely beautiful and enchanting. Min BahadurGurung, a distinguished social activist values Pokhara and Fewa Lake as heart of Nepal, in his book Heart of Nepal (2018). Besides its attraction and beauty, Fewa Lake is one of the biggest lakes in terms of the area it covers. In fact, the total area of Fewa Lake is bigger than Baidam which is in ward number 6 of Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City. The area of Ward no. 6 is 464.44 hectares (Ward profile) whereas the previous area of the FewaLke was 646.5920 hectares; still only the water area is 506.4720 hectares (Oli 1996; Oli 1997). So, in comparison, the current area of the Fewalake is bigger than Baidam by 42 hectares.
The whole ranges of floras available in Fewa Lake area can be divided into different levels ranging from bottom to top: the lowest level (800-1,000m), low tropical area (100-15000m), tropical area (15000-2000m), temperate weather area (2000-2500m).
2.2.2 Geographical features
The geo structure of Fewa Lake is multifaceted and uneven. Various geo-sights can be seen because of its hill-valley. The hill at various places is inconsistently constituted of nose-like steep knolls.
The inclination of its southern front (belt) is round 30-35 percent which is less than inclination of the south which is above 50 percent). Panchase(2508 m) is the highest point of the water shade areas of Fewa Lake. The Lake was built constructing a dam mainly to Seti River along with other small rivers. The shape of the Lake has been widened for irrigation and electricity production. Harpan stream is the main source of water for Fewa Lake. Andheri, and Sidhane are the two main sources of Harpan.
The steam winds through south-east and exists at west side and mingles with Phurse stream, a branch river of Seti, ultimately to fuse in the Lake. The river floats from the place 5km above the lake. There are a few rivulets. Most of them are seasonal and they float soil to the lake.
2.2.3 Demographic elements
Fewa Lake water-body is densely populated area in mid-hill region of Nepal. According to the census of 1991, the population of this area (beside the population of the town) is 3,578. Of total population, 49.7 percent are males and 51.3 percent are females. According to the socio-economic survey, the average family members in this area are six. The density of population is 258 per square kilometer. The survey on fertile land and jungle shows that per square kilometer of land is shared by 912 and 586 people respectively.
A total of 50 percent of the water conservation area of Fewa Lake has been occupied for agricultural use while the rest 25 percent is covered by the forest and woods. Out of the total forest area, 5393 hectare (98%) is covered by the broad-leaves deciduous forest. A total of 82 hectare area has been afforested. The matured afforested area has been jotted down to the forest. A total of 32 hectare forest is on the verge of extinction and growing up and the area of coniferous forest is negligible.
There are different types of vegetation’s in this area. The main vegetations available include vegetations attuned to marshy land, floating vegetations attuned to moist land, saal, saal and Chilauni Jungle, Katus-Tuni, Camuna-Simal Jungle, Schimawallachi-Katus-Mauwa Jungle, and Phalant-Gurans-Angeri-raktchandan Jungle. However, some of those vegetations are on the verge of extinction because of the adverse human activities.
2.2.5 Aquatic and wild animals
There are 17 different types of local fishes 4 types of imported fishes, six types of amphibians, 14 types of crawling animals, 104 types of birds and 34 types of mammals. There are 14 migrating birds while the rest of the birds live there locally.
2.3 Fewa Lake in the past
Fewa Lake was neater and cleaner in the past. People of Baidam and Malepatan drank the unprocessed water of the Lake and also used to carry water from Fewa Lake to their kitchen some three decades ago when there was no proper management of taps in this area of Pokhara city6.
RudraGautam (51) from Sarangkot, Lamarka recalling his childhood reveals “I used to drink the water from the Fewa Lake till 2027 B.S. (1971 A.D) as the water was cool then”. This state of Lake was observed by other visitors who went to Barahi temple to worship and the other party goers. RudraGautam shares his experience of last 30-40 years ago which is still the fresh in his minds. He states “in a deep location of the Lake the grandfathers used to throw the coins and say the coins would be of those children who could pick up them, and we children used to compete to pick up the glittering coins seen at the bottom of the lake”. Different types of fishes were clearly seen in Fewa Lake then. Snivaji is a Fisherman who has been fishing in Fewa Lake for last 60 years. He says, “I used to throw a fishery web to trap the clearly seen fishes”. This reality is unbelievable for the new generation at present. In the past, there were not only fishes but also other aquatic animals, ducks, and geeses.
“The water of Fewa was crystal clear which even healed the measles and cured wounds of people once they bath in it”. Says AlakGiri, born and brought up in Guarighat. Most of the residents of Baidam hold the similar opinions regarding the Lake.
The shadow of mountain ranges like Machhapuchhre and Annapurna were clearly seen in Fewa Lake some 35-40 years ago, which is rare now.
3. Fewa Lake: the center of tourism in Pokhara
Fewa Lake is one of the most precious natural gifts for the flourishing of tourism in Pokhara. In this context, “Pokhara” and “Fewa Lake” have become synonymous. Fewa Lake has become the center of attraction for the tourists visiting Pokhara.
In this context, now Fewa Lake has been an attractive destination not only for the international tourists but also for the internal tourists coming all the way from the different corners of the country. Boating is the most common activity for both international and domestic tourists. “I really felt good and romantic while boating and plunging in the Lake”, shares his experience, Fajesh Sharma, coming from Biratnagar. His personal experience is the representative for various other domestic tourists coming to Fewa Lake.
Statistics in the past shows that 30-40 percent tourists who come to Nepal visit Pokhara (MoTCA 2012). In fact, no tourist goes without touching and embracing the lake. Apart from being a central attraction for all kinds of tourists, it holds greater significance for the cinema crew, newlywed couples, and young couples. Many national and international films have covered the beautiful scenery of Fewa Lake. Both young couples and married couples come in great number at Fewa Lake7. It is one the dearest destinations for the politicians, sages, ascetics, monarchs, poets, writers, painters, and artists (Thapa 2010).
Touching the Lake with bare hands can give more pleasure than seeing the Mt. Machhapuchhre and Annapurna with bare eyes. Certainly the natural gift is more precious, which gives pleasure through touching than the one which gives pleasure through seeing.
The Fewa Lake is culturally rich and famous because of the location of the culturally significant Tall Barahi temple in the middle and the whole vicinity in the lap of Himalayas. Lake kingMahendra had made the first official visit to Fewa Lake in 2011 B.S. (1954 A.D). It was the first official visit by the head of the state. It was a milestone to establish the initial infrastructure at the spot where the present Tal Barahi temple is situated at nearly the middle of Fewa Lake.
The Fewa lake side is also well-known for holding annual schedule tourist events like English New Year Street Festival and Nepali New Year Food Festival which are organized by Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal Pokhara and Paschimanchal Hotel Association Pokhara, respectively.
The colorful boats at Fewa Lake and the Raniban on the bank of Fewa Lake are added attractions. The next attraction of Fewa Lake is the sight of birds and “Paragliding”. The Lake area is considered one of the prominent places for Para-gliding. Every day hundreds of Paragliding flights take place in the area. The importance of Fewa Lake has yet increased because people get off from the Paragliding at different places beside the Lake.
Fewa Lake side is also a popular tourist destination for various dishes of fishes available in the Lake. The domestic tourists and the foreigners are drawn here for also testing the varieties of fresh fish items”. There are dozens of restaurants around the lake especially feeding fish items. The increased demand of fish is a good symptom for the rise of income of local entrepreneurs. The Lake has provided livelihood to the Podes and Jalari (fisherman) community who have sustained their lives by fishing since the ancient time. The lives of three hundred people of 90 families have been sustained by fishing in Fewa Lake (Gurung and Bista 2003).
About 3-4 decades ago, Baidam area was less expensive. An aged social activist, BadriakaLamichhane (79) says “Baidam” was constructed from the word Bedaam (without a price). Previously people were scared to live around the Lake, later when the Hippies began coming to the place, it took a radical turnover. Now people come to see the lake from all the places, the price of land grew expensive: now how can we buy?” It has now become one of the most commercial and expensive areas in Pokhara. With natural, cultural, adventurous, and recreational attractions for tourists, Fewa Lake has become the heart of transactions from economic point of view. A study held by Ganesh Laxmi Trust in 2010 shows that there is a daily transaction of more than NPR 5,000,000 by various commercial organizations in Fewa Lake area. The natures of such organizations are listed in table 12.1.
Table 12.1 Number of tourism related commercial organizations
|Organizations||Numbers in operation||Organisations||Numbers in operation||Organisations||Numbers in operation||Organizations||Numbers in operation|
|5||Hair cutting||21||Music shops||13|
|Bank and financial Institution||8||Cosmetic||19||Handicraft shops||24||Paragliding||7|
|Beauty Parlor||20||Cyber café||14||Hardware||2||Poultry farm||2|
|Book shop||32||Department stores||3||Hotel/guest House/ Lodges||328||Provisional cold stores||145|
|Clinic/Medical Hall||14||Electric shops||8||Juice||8||Restaurant (khajaGhar)||233|
|Color Lab/Photo Studio||10||Embroidery and garments||79||Jewelers||13||Stationary||2|
|Consultancy||3||Furniture||7||Money changer||31||Tea shop||14|
|Thanka Art Gallery||12||Trekking Agency
|73||Trekking shops||71||Yoga meditation fitness||2|
|Tours and Travels||103||Other business||153||Total||1545|
Source: Field survey, 2011
Apart from the above commercial entrepreneurs, the Fewa Lake is the basis of sustaining the livelihoods of 723 boat owners and their dependents. Bharat Parajuli, the deputy president of Paschimanchal Hotel Association (PHA) Pokhara, remarks that “there has been investment of NPR 40 Arab by all of such tourism-related enterprises in Baidam”. Besides this, the existence of Fewalake has assisted in development and economic progress of the VDCs of this water-body area and Baidam. This is the very Lake which has given employments to many laborers; it has given lives to hundreds of fishermen; it has given persons millions of rupees to open heavenly hotels, malls, and resorts. It is the very lake which has dragged thousands of firings and has accommodated ten or twelve thousands of them where once even one firing used to be chased away disgustingly. The Fewa Lake not only has given the breads to the residents of Baidam, it also has supported the national economy, and therefore, it has become everybody’s concern.
4. challenges of Fewa Lake: Challenges for tourism
Fewa lake area is deemed to have progressed rapidly. Before 50 years, there was not even a tea shop in this area. Now, there are 400 restaurants and snack huts. This one example is sufficient to assert the rapid development of Fewa Lake area. Along with the rapid development, the area has also suffered a lot of malpractices. A number of studies (East Consult 2002; Lamichhane 2005; Lamichhane and Upadhyaya 2006; Lamichhane et al 2009; Pokhareli 1992; Silt Consultants 2002) reveal about various natural and manmade challenges faced by Fewa Lake area. A number of studies9 on Fewa Lake highlight the common challenges faced by it (Oli 1996). Figure 12.2 shows a number of places surrounding Fewa Lake which are associated with such challenges.
4.1 Challenges caused by natural calamities
The natural calamity is one of the prominent challenges for Fewa Lake. The sporadic floods and landslides are major components of natural calamity
- a. Burying
A local social activist HomLamichanisyas the big flood of 1962 B.S. (1906 A.D) and 2014 B.S (1957 A.D) buried the good deal of the Lake. Harpan River is the main source of Fewa Lake which gets enlarged with floods in rainy season. The stone, soil, tree, log, gravel and sand it floats every year has been burying the Lake. Moreover, the same material flowed by the rivers like Andheri, Polopa, Maarse, Sindare, Birung, Budhimul, Parmishti, Sidane, Handi, khahare 1, and Khare 2, Orlang also have contributed to shrink the lake. The survey of 1994 conducted by Land and Water Resouce Conservation Department concluded that every year volume around 175,000 to 225,000 cubic meters is buried by the stone, soil, sand, gravels, leaves, and logs. Due to such reasons, the total area of the Lake originally with 10 sq km area in 1962 B.S. (1906 A.D) has shrunk to 4.25 sq km of in 2065 B.S (2009 A.D) (Lamichhane 2005; Pahari 2009).
There were huge landslides in 1957 and 1962. Hombahadurlamichhane who has experienced both the landslides says, the landslides buried the lake to a great extent with the stones and soil that floated along with the landslides. A study held by Forest Science Study Institute in 2005 A.D. concluded, due to the landslide because of the road construction work or natural cause in six VDCs which lie in the water-body area, around 583,619.73 cubic meter soil, stones and sand has piled up in the lake. The landslide which occurs annually is equally responsible as the adverse human activities are to make Fewa Lake lose its pristine character. The stone, tree, and the soil flooded annually has been one of the growing problems of Fewa Lake.
A research from 1996-1998 conducted by Dr. DevendraLamichhane, a PhD holder on Fewa Lake, concluded that the Fewa Lake is being buried at the rate of 1,59,553.23 metric ton per year. If the burial keeps on with this rate, the average age of Fewa is just around 287 years. In recent time, the Fewa Lake is being buried annually at the rate of 6.7 hectors (Pahari 2009). If this continues, Fewa Lake will be transformed into Fewa River and Fewaphant (land).
“When I used to arrive with brother and father for fishing, the Fewa Lake was up to Bhakunde”, says ShivajiJalari (72). “Now it is being buried and narrowed. When the lake lake had 11-doors-dam, it was too big”. Similar is the experience of other people who spent their childhood in Fewa Lake like AlakGiri (79), LilabhaktaAcharya (82), SovitbahadurKunwar (83), ChandrakantLakmichhane (62), BheshrajParajuli (62), KikmatBahadurkunwar (64), etc.
- b. Decrease of deepness
The decreasing depth is another challenge of Fewa Lake. The very Fewa Lake was deep up to 33m in the past. Now the depth varies. Its average is 5.71m in GauriGhat and Raaniban area, 8.58m in Raaniwan and Ratna temple area, 9m in SediDanda-Chisapaani area, and 14-15m in Anadu area (Pahari 2012).
- c. Shrinkage
In the past the lake stretched to Jun Thumki, Paame, and Chankhapur, now it has shrunk to khapaudi. Each year Fewa Lake contracts at the rate of 6.7 hectare10. The land from Khapaundi northward to Thumki and Paame has turned into agricultural area. When the Fewa Lake was bigger, people barricaded the Land; now they have begun to own the land which in fact belongs to the lake.
Spread up to the area of ten square km in 1956 B.S (1900 A.D), the Fewa Lake now is confined to area just around 4.25 square km. Jalkumvi (hyacinths) is one of the main problems of Fewa Lake area.
4.2 Anthropogenic challenges
The average population growth in Kaski district is 3.84 percent (Oli 1996). The population growth rate is higher in comparison to that of other hill districts of Nepal; this owes to the migration from other hill districts. Unmanaged urbanizations is growing throughout the Sub-Metropolitan City impacting the facilities like drinking water, road and drain. The growing urbanization has given rise to the adverse effects like sound pollution, road narrowing, water pollution, and uncontrolled rubbish in the urban area and the tourist areas around the Lake. The natural beauty has fallen prey to adverse human activities. There are following anthropogenic challenges observed in Fewa Lake area.
- a. Pressure on land use
There is increasing pressure on the land which is situated towards the east of the damp beside the Lake. This area covers places from Baidam to KahareGairaChautara. There are increased constructions of huts and crude roads on land other than confiscated by the government. Similarly there is increasing building constructions in the area covered by PhirkeKhola.
- b. Incrased physical construcitons
According to local people, there are growing constructions of hotels and other development works in south-west belt of the Lake (beside Raaniban). Anadu and Simle as well as in the upside have caused the pollution of the environment. This has induced troubles in the abodes of the wild animals. Irrespective of the proper management of urbanization, unregulated constructions are underway in the road area that links Baidam to Khahare. Similarly, houses are being constructed rapidly in Phirke area too. There is construction of physical structure without obeying the legal standard.
Thus, the construction works around the Lake have negatively endangered the sustainability of this place from the perspective of tourism.
- c. Unplanned settlement
The residence beside the Lake side area is inconsistent and unregulated. The residential areas have been basically settled on the basis of the structure of land. The choice of residence is based on the availability of the facility of drinking water rather than of environmental and cultural importance.
- d. Sporadic overpressures on the boating management
The TaalBarahi temple situated in the middle of the Lake is center of faith and attractions for thousands of religious and domestic tourists. The great annual religious days and the time of New Year are those occasions which are witnessing increased number of tourists year by year. Proper management of boats and the life jackets are really challenging on those festival days. “the hotels and lodges of Lakeside having capacity of accommodating 12 thousand people altogether face difficulties to settle the people on such big occasions” says GobindarajPahari, the former president of HAN, Pokhara.
- e. Lack of moral and ethical practices by nearby settlers
Fewa Lake is observed with the lack of care for its clean up and purity. Shakya (2012, p 17) portrays such lacking in his poem as:
The lake has now been a special feature,
Like glory, glamour and something other
For locals and others a spot for pleasure
However it seems to be beyond care
The first beauty is the natural beauty.
The second one is man-made beauty.
The blend of both is a perfect beauty.
No beauty without cleanup and purity.
Fewa Lake are observed as consequences of the lack of disciplined and morale behaviors. Some examples of such trends as stated below are challenging to maintain necessary hygiene and sanitation, and prevent environmental degradation.
- Local people living around Fewa Lake and people running hotel, lodge, and restaurant let the safety tanks mingle to the lake.
- People from nearby areas throw chemical matters, pesticide fertilizer, and the rubbish in the Lake.
- There is increasing trend of human malpractice. The people representing the increased number of hotels, houses, and restaurant wash the huge amount of clothes of hotels and restaurant. It has disfigured the Lake’s beauty.
5. Earlier efforts for the protection and conservation of Fewa Lake
There are a number of organizations involved in the protection and conservation of Fewa Lake and its vicinity as listed in table 12.2.
Table 12.2 List of organizations involved in the protection of Fewa Lake
|1||Mother Groups of Baidam||11.||Pokhara Tourism Council|
|2||Barahi Youth Club||12.||Phewa Fishery Organization|
|3||Boat Byabshi Organization||13.||Nepal Tourism Board|
|4||Jalari Group (Fishery Byabsahi Committee)||14.||District Development Committee|
|5||Hotel and Restaurant Organization||15.||Pokhara Industrial Commercial Organization (e.g. PHAP, TAAN, REBAN, etc)|
|6||Community Service Center||16.||Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City|
|7||Phewa Environment Improvement Committee||17.||Government security agencies (Military, Armed Police, and Civil Police)|
|8||Phewa Boat Organization||18.||Tulasi Hotel|
|9||Damside Youth Club||19.||Other clubs (Rotary and Lions)|
|10||Heralo Academy||20.||Bhattarai Group|
Source: Field survey, 2012
These organizations (table 12.2) have shown their individual concerns for the protection of Fewa Lake through both advocacy and actions. It is also true that not all of these organizations are active. Some of those are defunct.
Fewa Environment Improvement Committee is one of such examples. The group had earlier owned two boats and the four boaters in an attempt to sweep the Jalkumvi (water hyacinths) from the Lake. In the beginning years the work was done through the private investment of the Bhattarai family. Later, the attempt was assisted also by the local bodies. It spent money for two and half years at the rate average NPR three Lakhs each year. This effort had also raised public awareness. This committee is not active now.
Nonetheless, there is a significant achievement in solving the problem of Jalkumvi (hyacinths) because of the shift from individual effort to the shared efforts for which a number of organizations like Community Service Center Baidam, Community Police Service Baidam, Boat Byabasahi Organization, Fishery Byabasahi Committee, and Phewa Environment Improvement Committee are in one networking. NTB is also supporting every year for removing water hyacinths from the Lake. This joint effort is also cooperated by District Development Committee. In this context some of these organisations have come up with some projects for the conservation and preservation of Fewa Lake. For example, Fewa Conservation Project was active earlier. However, there has always remained the lack of full implementation. The prediction is not only that of Dr. DevendraLaamichane, other concerned persons and bodies sense the same future of Fewa Lake.
In 2032 B.S. when surveyors came, the individuals registered the land of the lake in their personal ownership, says ShiavajiJalari, Krishna Pahari and HomBahadurLamichhane. The people who cannot tolerate the act of owning the land of Lake have unanimous view that “the Lake can be restored in its previous shape and size by either extending the current dam higher or constructing a new dam around Fishtail Lodge place. But the practical chance of performing this act is equally difficult because the people who value the importance and future of the Lake view that there is disparity between the talk of struggle to improve the Lake and the practical approach from the concerned and rightful bodies.
6. Future prospects of Fewa Lake in tourism
Fewa Lake stands as one of the precious natural gifts of nation in general and economic stimuli from the perspective of tourism in Pokhara. The lake is important for its natural beauty, from economic, religious, and more primarily from tourism perspective. Fewa Lake is an important natural legacy with the greater tourism potentials. It can be a lucrative and lasting source of income and base for livelihoods of thousands of people living beside this Lake. This area offers plenty of possibilities. Furthermore, it is also the potential source of multiple benefits for multiple stakeholders including tourists, local people, government, and various actors11. Since the ancient times, Fewa Lake has offered livelihoods for thousands of people and terrestrial and aquatic animals. Looking at it from perspective of income and as a popular tourist destination, Fewa Lake area should be utilized as an international venture for durable peace, prosperity and harmony. However, there is no utilization of water, land and environment according to the way they should have been used. It is lacking proper governance and management. This Lake is found polluted, borders being encroached and pesticides being thrown in the water. There has been no concern from anywhere regarding the punishment, prosecution, and preservation of the Lake which is the matter of central concern for not only Fewa Lake side but also for thousands of entrepreneurs, laborers, and businessmen, the adults, peasants, fishermen, boaters, and the common people of Baidam.
Even the state of its underutilization at present contains a number of managerial weaknesses for its durable existence. The sporadic natural calamities and human malpractices are such challenges which are not only causing to shrink and bury but also contaminating it. There is high need of showing concerns in preserving the Lake, purifying its water, preventing the border encroachment, stopping soil erosion from the hill areas, and building some more physical infrastructures to protect it on sustainable basis.
Thus, the dilemma of Fewa Lake is miserable. This further resulting with the deterioration of the whole bio-diversity of Fewa Lake. Therefore, it is extremely necessary to preserve the important heritage of Fewa Lake and allow its longevity with natural right to live forever. However, there is lack of justice with Fewa Lake as it is only glorified a lot for its natural beauty but action plans are not properly executed to protect. There is a public grievance that the government, concerned bodies, political parties, and preservation experts have not paid enough attentions regarding its preservation and sustainable development. So it needs enough attention. The following efforts are recommended in this direction;
- Fewa Lake is public property and it has assisted largely to enrich the prestige of people and the place and in economic development. Hence, there is a need of public awareness and hearing for its participatory conservation. This massage should be promulgated to the general public. For this, public awareness campaigns should be launched.
- It is high time that the concerned bodies should pay enough attention for sensible development, preservation and management plans and proper implementation, and management of these plans for the sustainability of Fewa Lake. Establishing locally powerful responsible body in united effort is needed to regulate, develop, and preserve Fewa Lake.
- While making plans about Fewa Lake area, there should be concentration on imparting economic benefits not only to tourism entrepreneurs and employees concentrated in Fewa Lake side area, but also to all six VDCs like Sarangkot, Kaskikot, Dhikurpokhari, BhadaureTamagi, Chapakot and Pumdi-Bhumdi which touch this Lake.
- Since the larger gravity and multifaceted issues of Fewa Lake cannot be managed by any single effort and entity, united effort among the different stakeholders like the tourist entrepreneurs, non-tourist local communities, political parties and, the common people of Fewa Lake area is needed.
- The sustainable development of Fewa Lake requires a basket fund, for which a tax policy to the businessmen and professionals who get a direct benefit from Fewa Lake and the provision of management fee in proportion to their income could be planned.
- Furthermore, there should be priority given to more studies and research works in the Fewa Lake area.
Bhadgaonle A. 2006. Lovely Pokhara (In Nepali). Kathmandu: AmritBhadgaonle.
East Consult. 2002. Fewa Lake Environment Awareness & Capacity Building Project Final
Gurung TB, Bista JD. 2003. Livelihood Improvements through Fisheries in the Pode
Community in Pokhara, Nepal. Stream Journal Bangkok: Stream Initiative, Network of Quaculture Centre in Asia-pacific, pp. 1-2.
Lamichhane DB, Upadhyay R. 2006. Tourism and its Influence on the Environment: A case
Study of some of the Adjacent Settlements of the Phewa lake Watershed Area pokhara volume II.Pokhara: The National Inventive Review the Multidisciplinary Forum of Scholars, pp. 47-58.
Lamichhane R, Pahari H, SunarPB, Ghimire S, Adhikari N, Adhikari B. 2009. Water Heritage Issue of Pokhara- 2009 (In Nepali).Pokhara: Pokhara Valley Lake Conservation Committee.
Lamichhane DB. 2005. A Study of Trophic States and its Impact on Environment: A Case of
Fewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal In: Lamichhane DS, Baskota KR, editors. The Himalayan Geographers.Pokhara: Department of Geography, Tribhuvan University. Prithwi Narayan Campus, pp. 1-7.
MoTCA (Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation). 2012. Nepal Tourism Statistics 2011.
Kathmandu: Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA.
OliKP.1996. Environmental Compliance and Enforcement: A Case
Of Nepal. Unpublished Paper presented at Fourth International Conference on Environmental Compliance and Enforcement. Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Oli KP.1997. Fewatal Conservation Work Plan.Kathamandu: National Conservation Work plan
Execution Projectt, Natonal Planning Commission, and World Conservation union.
Pahari H. 2009. Fewa Lake, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (In Nepali). In: Laamichhane R,
Pahari H, SunarPB, Gimire S, Adhikari N, Adhikari B, editors. Water Heritage Issue of Pokahra- 2009 (In Nepali).Pokhara: Pokhara Valley Lake Conservation Committee, pp. 1-11.
Pokhareli GM. 1992. Fewa Lake and the question of ecological protection.Gorkhapata, 28
November. Kathmandu: Kantipur Publications, p 6.
Silt Consultants.2002. Final Report on the Development Study on the Environmental
Conservation of Fewa Lake in Pokhara Nepal.
Shakya SR.1995.A Glimpse of Pokhara.Pokhara: Asta K. Shakya.
Shakya SR.2012.Pokhara in Poems.Pokhara: Political Science Surya RatnaShakya
Foundation, Prithivi Narayan Campus.
Thapa LB.2012. The Pokhara Valley A traveler’s Guide. New Delhi: Nirala Publication
Resource : Tourism in Pokhara , Issues,Trends and Prospects for Peace and Prosperity (2013) Published by,Pokhara Tourism Council,South Asia Regional Coordination Office of NCCR North-South and Nepal Center for Contemporary Research, Kathmandu