Kathmandu, April 9
The much-hyped Melamchi Water Supply Project is set to break through the tunnel tonight.
The project is nearing completion after 20 years after breaching multiple deadlines over the years.
Melamchi project began in 1988 after formation of Melamchi Development Committee, which was supposed to undertake construction work of the water supply project. The construction of the 27.5 kilometres long tunnel was later undertaken by Melamchi Water Supply Project with the support of Asian Development Board in 2000.
The MWSP had set first deadline for completing the construction in 2007. The construction of the tunnel picked pace in June 2009 after a Chinese contractor was selected. The Chinese contractor built 6.4 Kilometeres tunnel at a cost of Rs 70 million. The contract was later cancelled in September 2012. In January 2014, an Italian company, CMC Ravenna, started digging the tunnel. Work was again halted in 2015 after earthquakes hit the nation.
Spokesperson of MWSP Rajendra Prasad Panta said, “More than 70 per cent of tunnel excavation work was completed in 2016 and 2017.” However, tunnel excavation is not enough to supply water until work on the final tunnel support structures is completed. According to Panta, the construction of final structures will take at least three months, if the contractor expedites the work.
Moreover, construction of headworks, diversion weir, intake structure and desiccating basin at the origin site of the project at Ambatha are yet to be built.
It will take some more months before Kathmandu denizens get water from Melamchi. Kathmandu denizens are likely to utilise Melamchi water within six months, before Dashain.
The MWSP is a national pride project which aims to address the water woes of Kathmandu Valley. It is estimated that 170 million litres of water will be supplied to Kathamndu everyday in the first phase. The MWSP also plans to supply additional 340 million litres of water per day after joining the Yangri and Larke rivers.
A version of this article appears in print on April 10, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.