Freak weather travails for Chirapunji of Nepal:Parts of Kaski grapple with drought-like situation
Lumle, March 17:
Lumle - popularly known as Chirapunji of Nepal - is in the grip of a severe drought-like situation for the past few weeks.
The hinterland of Pokhara, too, has been hit hard, raising fear of a 70 per cent decline in winter crop production.
To make matters worse, large tracts of arable land in Kaski district, especially in the forest areas of Bhalam and Gyarjati VDCs, are grappling with raging wildfires for the past three days.
Endemic diseases like diarrhoea are spreading fast, thanks to acute shortage of potable water.
The Lake City and surrounding areas have not experienced rainfall since November 14.
“Lumle has never faced drought-like situation in the past 51 years. Rains used to be common in March-April,” said Bhakti Ram Devkota, a local teacher.
Bal Bahadur Nepali, 60, a farmer, echoed Devkota.
“All was well till last year,” he said.
But the wrath of the rain god is evident as vegetation and earth in the zone wear a parched look.
“Local agricultural produce like wheat, potato, pulse have been blighted due to lack of rainfall. If this condition persists, there would be food shortage in the coming days. It will have a terrible ramification since Nepal is largely an agro-based economy,” said Ram Bahadur KC, a senior agro-scientist, who is associated with Agriculture Research Centre at Malepatan in Pokhara.
Water experts, too, are worried over the freak weather condition.
“Pokhara hasn’t received any rainfall in the past four months. However, the upper reaches in the far-west have been lucky,” said Bikram Shrestha Juwa, chief, Narayani Basin
Local farmers are apprehending further damage to their crops because a sudden hailstorm is often common after a long spell of dry weather.
Shrestha also did not rule out such a possibility.
“Rainfall may occur if the moisture content in the air is over 90 per cent,” he added.
The scarcity of water can be felt in Pokhara bazaar as well. Drinking water is being sold by tanker entrepreneurs for a premium.
Tea cultivation at Lahachock in Kaski - a business estimated to be worth
over Rs 8 million - has also been hit hard.
Officials at District Forest Office, Kaski, attributed the wildfires to locals’ callousness at the height of the dry spell.
The freak weather has led to outbreak of various seasonal ailments. “Several people are suffering from diarrhoea, viral fever and dry cough,” said Dr Lumeshwor Acharya of Western Regional Hospital.