Kathmandu valley's wait for Melamchi water is finally over, with authorities today testing the water flow at several places in Kathmandu, 23 years after Melamchi Drinking Water Project was inaugurated.

Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited officials today inaugurated the water supply distribution in the valley by releasing 40 million litres of water to 98,000 households.

Chabahil, Saraswatinagar, Maijubahal, Jay Bageshwori, Gaushala, and areas near the airport were first to get Malamchi water. The water was supplied from a Chabahil-based reserve tank that was filled in the past few days. Katubahal, Kalopul, Bishalnagar, Devkota Chowk, Battisputali, and Bageshwori got the supply next. Later, water was directed towards Mahankal, Anamnagar, and Minbhawan, filling local reserve tanks. By 7:00pm, the supply had reached Chapagaun.

KUKL Director General Milan Kumar Shakya told THT that the authority was testing distribution to plug any leakage and to pinpoint other problems. "We will distribute water in four phases.

We should be distributing over 170 million litres of water daily throughout the valley," said Shakya.

Currently, only 60 million litres is being distributed around the valley.

KUKL will distribute 60.5 million litres of water in the second phase and 80.5 million litres in the third.

It plans to distribute water across the valley at least on alternative days.

Project Implementation Directorate under KUKL, the body responsible for distribution of water, plans to place more than 1,100 km of pipelines in the valley. However, till now less than 10 km pipeline is in place.

KUKL has urged people not to drink Melamchi water during the testing phase, as it might be contaminated due to newly inaugurated water tunnels and water pipes.

Funded mainly by the Asian Development Bank, Japan, OPEC, JICA, and the government of Nepal, MDWP has seen many ups and downs in the course of its execution.

The project was inaugurated in 1998, but work on it started only in 2007, setting 2013 as completion deadline.

It saw three multi-national contractors changed. The project picked up speed in 2018, but got further delayed after CMC, an Italian contractor, unilaterally ended the contract in 2019.

In September 2019, a Chinese company, Sinohydro, was given the contract to complete the remaining work.

The government also plans to channel water from Larke and Yangri rivers for the project.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 29, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.