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Ikha Pokhari cries out for preservation Print E-mail
Posted by Administrator   
Friday, 20 January 2012
 Kathmandu: Kathmandu not only boasts of being the Capital of the nation, but also is rich in terms of water resources — ponds, stone spouts and rivers. However, a bitter truth cannot be overlooked that these important sources of water are drying up, have dried or cannot be traced due to absence of conservation and reckless behaviour of the citizens here.

Among them is the Ikha Pokhari, a pond in Nyokha, Chhetrapati, which will definitely be added in the list of disappeared ponds if timely effort to preserve this heritage of cultural, historical and environmental significance is not taken. And you would be surprised to find the pond in a pathetic condition.

A deserted pond

Located inside the Kanya Mandir School in Nyokha, Chhetrapati, Ikha Pokhari at present is spread in an area of “around seven ropanis” as per the Principal of the school Indira Pandit. If you visit that pond, you won’t be able see any trace of water as the pond is covered with grass and weed. “The water level comes below your knee at present. But it will get dry in the months of Chaitra and Baisakh,” informed Pandit, according to whom the school students walk across the pond during the dry months as there is “no water.”
Kanya Mandir is a community school and the pond is registered in the name of that school. But the school claims of not being able to preserve the pond as it is not getting sufficient support from the bodies concerned of the government. “It has been deserted as no one has taken step to improve its conditions. As a community school we are unable to do so as we lack fund and support from the locals,” argued Pandit.

What was the pond like in the past?

Three decades back, when Pandit joined the school, the pond used to be filled with water. “The school used to use the water for cleaning purposes,” she recalled. But it lacks the possibility to extract water from there. “The water level of this pond started declining probably since the last 35 to 40 years. Now it has depleted a lot,” stated Puskar Rajbhandari who used to be the professor of Culture, Archaeology and History at Tribhuvan University (TU). He also estimates the pond to be 9,000 to 10,000 years old.
The 72-year-old Rajbhandari recalling a time some 65 years ago shared, “Those days, the pond used to be filled with water. And there were lotus flower sall over the pond. There was a man who used to collect lotus flower and leaves riding a boat and used to sell them at Bheda Singh.”

Encroachment by locals

One of the major reasons of disappearing pond and reduced water table is “because of the encroachment of the land area of the pond by the locals there,” as per Pandit. “Because of encroachment, the pond has been limited to an area of seven ropanis from around 11 ropanis,” claimed Pandit showcasing the households around the pond which have been using the land for cultivation of vegetables, dumping garbage, storing construction materials like bricks and cement and even parking of vehicles. “We have even tried to construct the wall in order to make the dry land of pond secure, but we are not getting support from the local people here,” she blamed.

Ground water extraction

With the increased households, water demand has also increased in that area. As such ground water extraction has become rampant with this. This might be one of the reasons for the decrease in water table of the Ikha Pokhari as per Dr Suresh Das Shrestha, Hydro-Geologist at TU. Dr Shrestha who is involved in the study of pond revealed, “There is a direct connection of shallow boring with the surface water. That means if the extraction using shallow boring method is high, the water level of ponds definitely decreases.”
Clarifying this, he further added, “As the method to water extraction by households is mostly from shallow boring through wells and tube wells, it might have contributed to the depletion in water table of Ikha Pokhari.” Meanwhile it is also blamed that the deep boring constructed by Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL) around three years ago has caused the water to deplete from the pond. “A 250 metre tube well has been constructed some 50 metres away from the pond The water of the pond has dried up a lot after the construction of tube well by KUKL,” blamed Pandit.
To this Dr. Shrestha commented, “Deep boring doesn’t affect the level of surface water, and in case of Ikha Pokhari as it is a deep boring it doesn’t have relation with the drying up of pond.”

Who is responsible?

Drying up of Ikha Pokhari means not only loss of cultural heritage but also a loss of important water resource. So, who is responsible to preserve this heritage? To this Gyanendra Karki, spokesperson at Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) stated, “KMC is responsible to preserve it and definitely we will take action if we get a report that the pond’s land area is being encroached. Though we have heard about the encroachment, no such complaint has been reported at KMC yet.”
Meanwhile, with the facilitation of Centre for Integrated Urban Development (CIUD), a public campaign called ‘Recharge Kathmandu Campaign’ is being conducted. Executive Director of CIUD, Prakash Amatya, who is leading the campaign informed, “We are reaching the communities to revive the traditional water systems and help them get benefitted. And we have chosen Ikha Pokhari as one of such targets where we plan to install Rain Water Harvesting System by collecting water during the rainy season from the school.”

Source: The Himalayan Times, January 20, 2012
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