Kathmandu, December 28

The key section of Melamchi Tunnel — 9.5 km from Sundarijal-Sindhu section — has been completed today.

Along with completion of this section, 22 km of the total of 27.5 km tunnel of the Melamchi Water Supply Project has been completed as the tunnel construction has been carried out from Gyalthum-Ambathan and Gyalthum-Sindhu, according to GhanashyamBhattarai, executive director, Melamchi Water Supply Development Board. “The tunnel construction will be completed by July and it will take another three months to supply water to Kathmandu Valley.”

As per Bhattarai, 99 per cent work of the water treatment plant in Sundarijal has been completed so far.

The project being implemented under assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the longest running project (around 17 years) till date.

After the completion of the key section of the tunnel, the ADB and the government today celebrated the breakthrough of the first key section of the tunnel. When completed, the Melamchi tunnel will carry 170 million litres of water per day to Kathmandu Valley from the Melamchiriverand another 340 million litres from the Yangri and Larke rivers by 2021.

“We are literally seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” said Kenichi Yokoyama, country director of ADB’s Nepal Resident Mission. “We have been committed to this crucial project through thick and thin and are glad that water will soon start flowing.”

ADB has provided a total of $145 million in loans for the $355.4 million Melamchi Water Supply Project and has been working since 2000 with the government to build the tunnel, 29 km of access roads, and with financing from Japan International Cooperation Agency, a water treatment plant. The April 2015 earthquake and subsequent difficulties in getting construction materials were the latest setbacks to the project.

The project is also providing social development support to families in the Melamchi valley such as health, education, and income generation programmes, according to ADB.

“ADB has lent Nepal $170 million through the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Improvement Project to provide water connections and expand reservoirs so that the 3.5 million inhabitants of the Valley can benefit from the new tunnel and receive affordable and clean water.”