Tunnel digging of Bheri Babai diversion project expedited

Kathmandu, January 4

The tunnel construction process of the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project (BBDMP) has been expedited after the project started to dig the tunnel by utilising a tunnel boring machine (TBM). The project has adopted the TBM technology for the first time in the country to dig the 12-kilometre-long tunnel of the project.

After completion of the initial testing of the TBM on November 6, the project has dug 1,200 metres till date. The project is operating the machine 24 hours a day with two shifts being deployed for the purpose.

“The tunnel construction process is satisfactory and we expect the project to be completed within the set deadline of April, 2020,” said Rukmangat Khanal, senior divisional engineer of the project. “Before installing the machine, the project had dug 150 metres of the tunnel manually, but now the process has been expedited due to the TBM.”

According to the project, the TBM is being used to dig 20-25 metres of the tunnel per day, which is as per the plan of the project. “Overall 20 per cent progress has been achieved till now and if there is no further hurdle we will be able to complete the project as scheduled,” Khanal said.

The project had imported the TBM from China on September 15 and was deployed on September 25. According to Khanal, tunnel digging and cleaning process is continuing simultaneously.

The multipurpose project ill complete the tunnel digging process in the first phase. It will then construct the dam and hydropower plant in the second phase and the whole irrigation programme will be completed in the third phase.

As per the government's plan, the multipurpose project will produce 48 megawatts of electricity and help irrigate 51,000 hectares of land in Banke and Bardiya districts. The powerhouse of the project will be constructed in Bheri Ganga municipality of Surkhet district.

Currently, the project is finalising the detailed study of the hydropower project and dam of the project. “It will be completed within the next few months and the work on the hydropower plant and dam will be started,” Khanal informed.

The government had initiated the project in 2011. As per the modality of the project, water from the Bheri River will be diverted to the Babai River and the multipurpose project will be completed. Due to delay in the construction of the tunnel, the overall progress of the project has been delayed.

Initially, six years back the government had estimated it would cost Rs 16.43 billion to complete the project. However, due to the delay in the progress of the project the total cost will increase. Then prime minister late Sushil Koirala had inaugurated the project on April 2, 2015. The government also listed the project as a national pride project.