SOLUKHUBMU, Nepal, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Nepal on Wednesday formally announced the completion of much-awaited Imja Lake Lowering Project' that has been executed above 5000 meters in the Everest region of the country.
Bal Krishna Khand, Nepalese Minister of Defense and Jaya Dev Joshi, Minister of Population and Environment jointly inaugurated the Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project Thursday at the Imja Lake premise, some 11 km from the world's highest peak Mount Everest in Solukhumbu district.
Imja Lake, one of the biggest glacial lakes in the Himalayan country, is located at an altitude of 5010 meters above the sea level. The depth of the glacial lake is 150 meters.
According to research, the lake has been expanding annually since 1960s with global temperatures on rise. As the lake was posing high potential risk of an outburst, the safety project has been completed by the Nepal Army by lowering the water level by 3.4 meters.
"We have done this kind of project for the first time with the support of UNDP and local community. This is a unique and challenging kind of project. It has given us confidence that we can implicate this project design in other parts as well", Rajendra Chhetri, Chief of Nepalese Army told Xinhua while attending the ceremony.
Around 150 people including 40 Army personnel and locals of Khumbu region were deployed in the area for more than six months to complete the project by developing drainage and lowering the water level.
The project that commenced in April and completed at the end of October is under Department of Hydrology and Meteorology of Nepal. It has been funded by Global Environment Facility and United Nations Development Fund.
Sophie Kemkhadze, Deputy Country Director of UNDP Nepal told Xinhua on the spot, "We initiated this project to mitigate the risks caused by the Imja glacial lake. We have constructed drainage and the water level is controlled now. As a result, the risk of outburst has been lessened, saving the lives of thousands of people living downstream."
Under the project, various communities living downstream of the lake have also been provided with infrastructures for their preparedness and mitigation of disaster risk reduction including evacuation centers, early warning systems and capacity building trainings.
The risk reduction project has been expected to directly benefit more than 87,000 locals of Khumbu region, trekkers, guides and tourists.
Though Nepal's temperature increases only by 0.04 degree Celsius annually, many glaciers are melting and forming glacial lakes in this region of the country due to the global warming.
According to a study of International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, there are 1466 glacial lakes in Nepal by 2009. Among these, 21 are said to pose potential risks and four glacial lakes in the high Himalayas are at serious risk of an outburst and need immediate attention.
"We have developed methodology to implement such projects in other glacial lakes as well based on experience and success of Imja project", the Deputy Country Director of UNDP added.
According to reports, Nepal has experienced 24 glacier lake outburst flood events in the past few decades including three incidents in Dudhkoshi river basin alone, causing huge damage and loss of life and infrastructure.