Drying Lakes Of Dagapella ,Bhutan. A Hope For The Villagers To REVIVE……


Bhutan , a small land lock country in the Himalayan region is rich in water and biodiversity, Over sixty percent of the land is covered with forest and river systems are also rich, The country’s economy also depends upon the Hydropower, which is harnessed from the natural rivers.

However with the recent years , the impact of climate change is already seen to be hitting the nation. The sad stories for some of the people are drying of natural lakes in foothills. In this story we would like to see on how such lakes have dried in the Southern foothills of Dagana Dzongkhag, its impact, probable reasons for drying and so on.

Dagana Dzongkhag lies in the south west part of the country, most of the people in this region depend upon agriculture and live stock, In the past every households had at-least a dozen of animals, but the trend has declined now.

People have started to move from livestock to adapt modern amenities. The picture below shows how these natural lakes have changed their face. In the streach of dagana there are about five  lakes locally known as Aari pokheri, Jor pokheri, Hari pokheri ,Pana pokheri ,Chhar pokheri. Pokheri in local dialects means Lake.

These lakes about a decade use to be full of water, a place where both domestic and wild animalsas well the community people use to thrive for the water for survival. But no longer does these lakes have any water. Although no one have measured the volume of water till date , the locals there  say that it use to be enough for the entire village cattle to feed and today nothing but they do regret the loss of lakes

Thirty nine  years old Phurpa Tenpa Sherpa told third pole thathad there been water in these lakes  still the entire village need not worry for irrigation problem. The lakes which are in a row stands at the hill side and the villages of Goshi,Tshendagan,and Gesarling lie below.

Today most of the farmers in Goshi,Tshendagan,and Gesarling are suffering from acquit shortage for  irrigation water , Like one shown below some of the donor agencies and the government have come up with rainwater harvest system for them too.

Why are the lakes disappearing in Bhutan?

As per the local myth the peopleof Dagana, who live around the lake say that the drying of lakes started after people started to cut trees around the lakes and many dirtied the area.

They in the past use to conduct many religious activities toplease the local ditties but no one does that today .

Like the lakes in Dagapella , even another lake , one of the most preserved at Kalikhloa is dying too. Kalikhola is a day long walk from Dagana towards south.

However it is still believed that many sea animals are still found there but the size is decreasing every year, the lake called Kharul lake is still worshipped by the locals there in the community and still contains water.

The lake expert in Bhutan, Dr. Pema Wangda from water shade management in Bhutan  said deforestation could be the main reason for drying , he added that when the forest cover around such lakes disappear , the water table underneath is disturbed and cannot hold the water to feed them during dry seasons.

He said that the management is currently doing several studies and will soon come up with the revival concept.

The best way according to Dr. Pema is revival of the vegetation around the lakes, he further added that geological disturbance and  climate change is also associated with the issues.

The problem of drying of such lakes are not only in Dagana but the major portion have taken place in these areas , out of five  Lakes in a same stretchonly one have the water content in it .

The kahrul lake.The lake that the local people consider as a good omen and a source of goodluck for their annual harvest is also at the verge of extension.

And the reason for almost all the drying lake is same, butlately many people have also started to blame the climate change, where the country is already facing number of causes of climate changes like untimely rain fall , changing of seasons untimely and vegetation degradation at different places

For instance the country received its first snowfall only in March this year, which should be there in January, these types of change peopleblame for dying of lakes at different points.

These lakes in the past were the main source of water for many people who especially use to stay with cattle in the areas ,the lakes being located at the greenermeadows of Dagana , had a vital role to play in it , but today one can walk through the lakes like one  walking on the highways .

A local leader Phutrba Tempa Sherpa told third pole that during those times  due to the availability of water , villagers use to keep their cattle along the lakes .

These lakes provided them withdrinking water for the cattle, the local people and the cattle during those times useto thrive the same source. The cattle those days use to drink the water from the side while humans from middle

Locals say that the people in the locality feel that the local deities have left the places leading to drying of lakes , while others say hat uncontrolled felling of trees along the lakes resulted in withering  of water.At the site it was also found that number of trees were fell in the past.

But today many have already realized the ill effects of such results and also the cause,the lakes these days although dry are all fenced with metal  wires and poles.

One among many lakes was also found to be adopted by a nearby school for preserving it.

Jhor pokheri, The only lake with water being adopted by Nature club of DMSS.

The Forestry department and several research institutes in the areahave also planted several trees hoping that the water may sprout one day.

Phurpa Tenpa also told that taking out water from the lake and using for different purpose is not allowed by the locals , it was based on the belief that the local deities might vanish away.

Another 62 years old farmer said they do some religious activities annually in one of the so called Jor pokheri still to pleas the deities.

Today all these lakes fall under protected community forests where the community themselves take care of the lakes and do not allow any one to cut down trees.

But as said regret comes after the actions, some of the locals say that they regret felling the trees.

One of the regular woodcutter who did not want to be named said that he never realized that this would be the consequence of felling trees.

He said his deeds have and will definitely hamper the future generations.

But the only hope for these residents who live near the lake is to revive one day , many locals said if there is fund they would initially like to feed these lakes with artificial water from other source, they feel that this would help grow the vegetation and revive the water table.