Kanepokhari drying up for the first time ever

Urlabari, May 14: The historical Kanepokhari of Morang is drying up.

The pond, believed to have been dug by King Birat during the Mahabharat period to provide water to his cattle, has dried up to such an extent that its size has shrunk to an area of one bigha from previously 5 bighas.

The locals said that pond dried up due to increasing human encroachment and deforestation around the pond. "We have never seen or heard of the pond drying up," they said.

The pond is located 23 kilometres east of Itahari and 20 kilometres west of Damak. The pond is culturally so significant that its location, Kanepokhari Rural Municipality, is named after it.

To conserve such an important pond, the local government had allocated Rs. 1 million last year. "But in the absence of a concrete plan of action, the money has not been used," said Navin Rai, president of the Rural Improvement Community Forest Consumers Committee.

Rai informed that the President Chure Conservation Committee had also allocated Rs. 1.5 million for the pond's conservation. But that money was also not used due to the internal problems of the committee.

The local elders fondly spoke of the days when rare fishes, turtles and snakes were found in the pond. Its pristine waters used to attract migratory birds and forest deer. "The pond used to be so beautiful four decades ago," they stated.

There are various myths associated with how Kanepokhari got its name. One story has it that the people of the Dhimal ethnicity, who live near the pond, had to mandatorily wear ornaments on their ears during the local festivals. But those who didn't own any ornaments used to ask them from an elderly woman who lived near the pond. That is why, the place to ask for ear ornaments (Kane Gahana) got the name Kanepokhari.

Another story has it that on the occasion of local festivities, the people used to eat near the pond. That is why, the pond was known as Khajapokhari (food pond) which eventually transformed into Kanepokhari.

Yet another legend has it that King Birat had a cattle herder named Kane who dug the pond, at the king's order, to provide water to his cows. That is why the pond was named after him as Kanepokhari.

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