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Stakeholders take initiation to conserve and develop Begnas Lake

2023 Jun 06, 14:26, Kathmandu

Begnas Tal is the third largest lake of Nepal and second largest behind the Phewa Lake among eight lakes in Pokhara, the touristic city. Despite its beauty and allure, it has been less attractive to visiting tourists as compared to the Phewa Lake. It may be due to a lack of publicity and conservation.

But lately, initiatives have been taken to conserve the lake with the involvement of the Lekhnath Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Begnas Lake Boat Entrepreneurs' Committee (BLBEC) and the Fisheries Entrepreneurs Association, Lekhnath. The LCCI has always accorded high priority to the conservation and maximum utilisation of the lake for touristic purpose, said the LCCI President Chhatradhar Aatreya.

Like every year, various programmes were organised last year on the occasion of the Lekhnath Festival for the conservation and touristic utility of the lake. A large number of tourists attended the festival. Initiated since 2058-2059 BS, the festival was officially launched since 2060 BS.

As part of the conservation of the lake, a hoarding reading Begnas Lake in English would be set up at Ratamata area of the lake, said Aatreya. The project cost is estimated to be around Rs 1.3 million. The hoarding will be 70 feet in length and 17 feet in height. The LCCI showed a demo about the importance, awareness and activities relating to the conservation of the lake on the occasion of the 18th Lekhnath Festival in 2079 BS.

The demo featured the lake and its surrounding areas, its water source from Syangkhudi to Kapase, the Begnas honeybee industry, Kusunde located in the deep part of the lake, Jimire Kuna, the Piple Jalari human settlement, the dam site, human settlements around the lake, Mandhare Park, Alaiche, Bans Kuna, Deurali Temple, Kahere, Rupa Begnas view tower, Kaure, Majhikuna, Maladi, the big pine tree, Baraha Chhetra, and Rate Tudo.

Initiatives have been taken to connect the Baraha Area across the lake with religious tourism under the leadership of the Begnas Lake Religious and Tourism Development Institution (BLRTDI) and the Begnas Lake Baraha Conservation Committee (BLBCC) among others. As part of this, a trail, a resting place, a picnic spot and other infrastructures have been built on the initiative of then Lekhnath Municipality with monetary assistance of over Rs 11 million by the World Bank, said Dhak Nath Kandel, ward chair of Pokhara Metropolitan City-31, and the BLBCC chairperson.

Under the Begnas Lake Baraha Area Touristic Infrastructure Construction Plan, the construction of infrastructures has started with Rs 5 million provided by the Gandaki provincial government, said Dhurba Nath Adhikari of the BLRTDI. Under the Plan, the construction of Laxmi Narayan Temple has started. Baraha area holds religiously and archeologically significance, he said.

For archeological research of the area, a team from the Department of Archeology carried out a study earlier. The construction of infrastructures and the Temple aimed to attract tourists visiting the Begnas Lake, he said.

Every year, the BLBEC conducted a puja at the lake on the first Purnima of each year praying for evading any boat accidents, and the safety and welfare of passengers, and visiting locals and tourists.

A three kilometers trail is under construction from the Baraha Temple to Begnaskot, said the ward chair Kandel. The metropolis has provided Rs 2.2 million for the construction of the trail (Rs 1.5 million in the previous fiscal year and Rs 900,000 this FY).

Similarly, the construction of a foot trail along the lake banks has started at the estimated cost of over Rs 1.8 million provided by the Nepal Tourism Board and the metropolis.

The metropolis has allocated Rs 1.5 million under the Begnas 'Serophero Programme', said Kandel. On December 8-15, 2018, a Mahayagya was organised here with the aim of the promotion and development of religious tourist destinations in the area including the Begnas Baraha Area. Over Rs 7.6 million collected from the Mahayagya excluding all expenses has been put in a bank, and various social awareness activities have been launched with interests from the amount, said Dhurba Nath.

This aimed to conserve and development Begnas Baraha, and surrounding Gorakhnath, Aghau Maula Thulakot, Begnas Kot, Pachbhaiya Kot, Rupa Kot, Syaklung, and religious Pachbhaiya Deurali along with the conservation of the lake, it has been said. A resting place has been constructed, and safe drinking water has been managed in the premises of the lake, he said, adding that statues of a cow and a calf have been set up.

Two hundred fifty six people have got a job at operating boats in the lake, said the BLBEC chair Rabiraj Kandel.

The Jalari community, who depend on fishing for their livelihood, have also joined the campaign to conserve the lake, said Kandel. Last year, the BLBEC managed an observation tour for entrepreneurs around the lake with the aim of enhancing their efficacy. It managed an observation tour for 90 local entrepreneurs who visited Bharat Lake, Janakpur, Shahid Smarak, Sauraha and CG Dham, he said.

A total of 256 boats are in operation in the lake, and a motor boat has been purchased at Rs 5 million aiming to attract tourists by providing them a safe and prompt service, he said.

The motor boat was purchased by collecting money from boat entrepreneurs, said Rajendra Tiwari, chairperson of the Begnas Lake Fish Entrepreneurs Committee. Apart from boating, visiting people can savour a taste of various dishes of fish. The lake is home to various 46 indigenous species of fish including Tilapia, Bighead, Bhakura and Mahseer.

Most of 56 families in the area are engaged in fishing professionally. Of 42 families at Piple village on the northern banks of the lake, 32 belong to the Jalari community. Main income source of the community is fishing. Each family has earned anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 per month from fishing, said Tiwari. Fishes from the lake are sold for from Rs 180 to Rs 1,000 per kg depending on their species.

However, the global COVID-19 pandemic reduced their clients. Before the pandemic, a large number of tourists visited the area to get the taste of fishes of various species, said local people.

The relatively ease of the situation and mobility of tourists following the disappearance of the virus has revived their hope. The construction of infrastructures around the lake with the aim of attracting tourists is expected to significantly contribute to tourism of the area, the locals expressed the hope.



Phewa Lake Lekhnath Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) the Begnas Lake Boat Entrepreneurs' Committee (BLBEC) Fisheries Entrepreneurs Association Begnas Lake Tourism Development Institution
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