While a number of wetlands in the district have already dried up, efforts to convert the Thalthale wetland in Puwamajhuwa area into a playground has been halted indefinitely owing to dispute among local stakeholders.
The dispute had reportedly surfaced after the government took its decision without taking into account the probable environmental impact of the programme. Local political parties had agreed to turn the wetland near Bindapandi Secondary School into a playground five years ago. And the VDC along with Puwamajhuwa Sports Development Committee (PSDC) purchased the land accordingly last year.
The VDC has nine ropanis of land registered under its name and with a provision to accommodate the VDC office in the playground. â€œWe started the work as we had already bought the land,â€ said Santosh Rai, chairperson of the PSDC.
According to locals, the massive earthquake in 1934 caused the lakes to dry up turning the area into a wetland. Locals are of the opinion that the land should be conserved to attract tourists. â€œIf we were to conserve the wetland and e-construct the lakes, it would help provide economic opportunities,â€ said Pritha Singh Sunuwar, a local resident.
Meanwhile, some have still pitched for a playground at the site as the construction of a lake would pose threat to around 35 households. Santosh Thapa, a resident of the affected area, said that they wanted the concerned authorities to take into account the geographical ramifications it could have in the village before coming to a conclusion. VDC Secretary Anil Shrestha said that although they decided on the construction of a playground after consulting the District Soil Conservation Office, the programme had been put to a halt following the dispute among dissent factions.
The ever-increasing population and climate changes, of late, has led to the subsequent loss of lakes and wetlands in the region. Hangethampokhari, Lam-pokhari and Maimajhuwa have already been turned into playgrounds. As a result, there has been a sharp decline in the number of aquatic birds in the areas.
â€œWe have to ensure that the lakes do not dry up or else setup an alternative mechanism to fill the them with water,â€ said Bishu Kafle, who works for the conservation of natural lakes in the district. A study conducted by the District Development Committee stated that there were a total of 41 lakes in the district.