POKHARA, May 5: Pokhara Metropolis allocated Rs 70 million this fiscal year to construct check dams at Harpan area of Fewa Lake as a measure to conserve the lake.
However, with only two months left before the current fiscal year ends, the process to build the proposed check dam is yet to start. If the process does not begin within the next two months, the budget will freeze.
The Gandaki Province government had also allocated Rs 80 million towards the ‘beautification of Fewa Lake’ in the current fiscal year. However, nothing has been done so far in this regard as well, and this budget is also likely to freeze.
A total of Rs 150 million combined budget of the local government and provincial government meant for conserving the Fewa Lake has so far remained unused while the condition of the lake continues to deteriorate. Proposal for building the check dams was approved to prevent the excess falling of sand, stones and gravels in the lake. Due to haphazard road construction and landslides in the vicinity of the lake, it has been under threat for a long time now. Locals are unhappy with the government claiming that it has failed to implement approved measures during the past ten months to conserve the lake despite the sensitivity of the issue.
The metropolis has only prepared a detailed project report for building the check dams. As per the DPR, five check dams should be made in the Harpan area.
However, the provincial government has not prepared even a report to initiate the lake’s beautification. It is yet to produce a work plan to utilize the allocated budget. Locals state that this is the height of negligence of the provincial government toward the conservation of the lake.
According to Rajib Pahari, member of the Gandaki Province Assembly and member of the Fewa Lake Conservation Facilitation Committee, the lack of coordination between local government and the provincial government has resulted in the sorry situation. “Due to the lack of coordination between the provincial and the local government, implementation of the projects has been affected,” he said.
He stated that the matter could be solved instantly if all the concerned bodies and both the provincial and the local governments agree to work together. “But there is no harmony between the two.”
He lamented that it is of no use to make noise about the failure of the provincial and the local government. “Fewa lake is dying, and we need to conserve it through our collective efforts. And there is no use of making noise about our failure!”
Pahari believed that the provincial government could work on the base of the DPR prepared by the metropolis and that this could launch the project immediately.
“If the DPR is trusted and call for bids to implement is issued; work on the project can start immediately. The budget allocated by the metropolis may not suffice for building all the dams. The provincial government can allocate its budget to supplement the local government’s budget,” he suggested.
He said the lack of trust or the spirit of coordination between both the two governments has led to the deteriorating situation of the Fewa Lake. Although he had tried to bring both the governments to work together on the project, nobody listened to him, he lamented.
“I proposed that we should combine the budget of the local government and the provincial government, endorse the DPR and work together on the project. But nobody listened to me,” he said.
Combining the budgets would enhance its size, and instead of one year plan, it could be extended for a little more time, according to Pahari.
Members of the metropolis meanwhile stated that the DPR was prepared not just for one year project or in the view of Rs 70 million budget, but for building five check dams which necessities a total budget of Rs 360 million and extended time.
“We indeed prepared DPR but we cannot invest Rs 360 million in a year and construct those check dams within that period. So, for this year, only Rs 70 million was allocated,” said Mayor of the Metropolis, Man Bahadur GC. “But after the provincial government expressed interest to work on the project, it could not move ahead,” he added.
Even though it wanted to work in coordination, the provincial government did not show urgency, alleged GC. “And so, now we have reached to a situation where the budget might freeze due to inaction.”
He further stated that the metropolis is, however, trying hard to stop the budget from freezing. “We are trying to initiate the bidding process that would mandate the contractor to complete the construction of the check dams in 15 months. If the tender is approved without delay, the budget won’t freeze.”
According to him, it would be more convenient if the provincial government provided financial assistance, that was why the metropolis waited for it. “But the delay is bothering us and delaying our plans.”
GC reiterated that the metropolis is serious about building the check dams and expressed hope that the budget won’t freeze. “We won’t wait for the province government any longer. We look forward to starting the process immediately. It is imperative to build the dams to conserve Fewa Lake.”