Kathmandu, April 27:

Minister for Physical Planning and Works Hisila Yami today said that the ministry is taking a bold decision on the future of the $500m Melamchi Water Supply Project.

“We are studying the project as we get the impression that it has drawn lots of controversies and problems. We are making some ‘major decision’ within a month,” Yami said in an exclusive interview with The Himalayan Times today.

The Ministry of Physical Planning and Works is currently re-studying all the documents and contracts related to the ambiguous Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) after the Maoist leader assumed the office.

The fate of Melamchi project, being run for over a decade with loan from the Asian Development Bank and others, is uncertain as the government is taking time to hand over the water distribution section to a foreign private company, which was one of the conditions for sanctioning the loan.

The project intends to bring 170 million litres of water per day after digging some 26.5 km tunnel in Helambu VDC of Sindhupalchok.

“We are not against Melamchi as such. There is no doubt that the Kathmandu Valley needs more water and we must welcome any solution. But the decisions must be made with caution. Water should not cost more than the people and the country can afford,” she said. The ministry is also ready to welcome a private company for water distribution. “But when it comes to a foreign company like Severn Trent, the ministry will have to think over it.”

“We should first give chance to local companies and see how efficient they are than just obeying foreign donors,” she said.

The only candidate to commercially manage water distribution system of the Kathmandu Valley, the UK-based Severn Trent Pvt Ltd, came here last week, but returned after meeting some top-level government officers.

“And if any private party is coming, it must first promise to serve the public first. We appreciate plans like that of Chayasal and Alkohiti of Patan, where the water is privately managed but locals can buy water at very reasonable price.”

She also said that the ministry will be taking initiative to allocate more budget for the construction of sewage lines for urban development.