Melamchi gets USD 3m to expedite tunnel work

Kathmandu, March 12

On demand of the contractor, the government has provided an additional USD 3 million for the tunnel excavation work of Melamchi water supply project.

Last month, CMC Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna, the contractor for the project, had demanded additional financial support for use of new technology to complete tunnel excavation work by June-July. It had blamed weak rock formation for delay in tunnel excavation work.

According to Melamchi Water Supply Development Board, USD 3 million was transferred to the contractor’s bank account as additional financial support to expedite tunnel excavation work.

“The government provided additional support as the contractor was unlikely to complete tunnel excavation work on the given time without using new technology,” Deputy Executive Director at the board Ramakanta Duwadi told The Himalayan Times, adding, “The amount will be deducted while making the final payment.”

Duwadi said the contractor had proposed expediting tunnel excavation by using Self Drilling Rock Bolt technology at the crown portion (curve portion) of tunnel where weak rocks have appeared. “Self Drilling Rock Bolt technology would leave the crown portion intact and allow work to be carried out without any difficulty,” he said. “Apart from Self Drilling Rock Bolt technology, laying concrete slabs at the invert of the tunnel is another technique for speeding up construction work.”

As per the progress report so far, 4.4 km in total comprising 2.2 km of Sindhu-Gyalthum stretch and 2.2 km of Gyalthum-Ambathan tunnel have yet to be excavated.

With the third deadline fast approaching, Melamchi Water Supply Development Board is struggling to complete its task on time by using the most effective technology. The third deadline for completion of the project is expiring on October 2017. However, given the pace of work, the project is likely to miss this deadline too.

According to MWSDB, due to geographical problems the pace of tunnel excavation has decelerated by 50 per cent. Earlier, daily tunnel construction rate was approximately 25 metres per day and around one kilometre excavation was the normal optimum target for each month.

Prior to the payment of additional support approximately amounting Rs 318,000,000, Rs 3.35 billion has already been paid to the contractor out of total Rs 7.72 billion.

Melamchi project’s first deadline expired in 2007 and second deadline in 2016 April. So far, out of the total 27584.5 metre length of the tunnel, 22853.1 metre has been constructed by 22 February this month.

Started in 21 December 2000, the Melamchi Water Supply Project  assisted by the Asian Development Bank aims to reduce drinking water shortage in Kathmandu Valley. The Melamchi Project envisages supplying 510,000,000 litres of water per day to Kathmandu Valley from the Melamchi, Yangri, and Larke rivers of Sindhupalchowk district. In phase one, the project will supply 170,000,000 litres of water per day to the Valley.