Kathmandu, April 12 Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun, Minister for Drinking Water Bina Magar and Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Director General for South Asia Hun Kim participated in a breakthrough ceremony today that marked the completion of the excavation of the longest tunnel in Nepal. The 26-km tunnel, to be fully operational in a few months, will carry water from the Melamchi River to Kathmandu Valley for supply by the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Ltd (KUKL). Speaking on the occasion, Kim said, “The completion of the excavation marks a very important milestone in the project’s history and is indeed a giant leap forward for the project, one that will soon help alleviate the water stress experienced by the inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley.” Kim also appreciated the strong commitment of the government that has enabled the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) to overcome countless challenges in the past, including the 2015 earthquake and the subsequent shortage of materials, and to come to this remarkable stage. The MWSP will benefit an estimated 1.3 million urban inhabitants — or 158,549 households — with more reliable water supply and higher quality water. The current water supplied by KUKL is about 100 million litres per day (mlpd) on average, with about 40 per cent of this estimated to be lost due to leakages. An additional 170 mlpd of water will be available by the end of 2018 for distribution to KUKL customers. Water will be supplied daily for at least two to four hours to KUKL customers once the new system is put into operation. “ADB is proud to be part of a project of such national importance,” said ADB’s Country Director for Nepal Mukhtor Khamudkhanov. He also appreciated the government’s reforms in Nepal’s urban water sector and urged everyone involved to focus on completing the remaining work so that Kathmandu residents could enjoy improved water services in 2018. 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 as well as 29 km of access roads. Part of the water treatment plant in Sundarijal is financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency under the MWSP. In a related project, ADB lent Nepal $170 million through the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Improvement Project to expand the Sundarijal water treatment plant, modernise the distribution network, construct large storage tanks, rehabilitate existing infrastructure, and strengthen KUKL so that the residents of Kathmandu Valley could benefit from the new tunnel and receive affordable and reliable water. The Kathmandu Valley Wastewater Management Project, also funded by ADB through an $80 million loan, aims to improve wastewater management through the construction of wastewater treatment plants and improvements in the sewer network. The government is planning to complete all finishing works and testing of the tunnel by early July. This will allow the Melamchi River’s water to be diverted to the Sundarijal water treatment plant in July, with testing of the new transmission and distribution system in Kathmandu Valley to start from August.