Melamchi tunnel construction likely to be over by January

Kathmandu, November 20

The Melamchi Water Supply Project is likely to complete tunnel construction work only by January 2018, one month after the deadline.

Last month, the contractor CMC Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna had committed to complete construction of the tunnel stretching from Ambathan to Gyalthum by November and from Sindhu to Gyalthum by December this year.

Melamchi Water Supply Development Board said that the construction of around 400 metres along the Ambathan-Gyalthum stretch and 600 metres along the Sindhu-Gyalthum stretch of the tunnel remained to be excavated.

Deputy executive director at the Board Ramakanta Duwadi said the construction of both sections was likely to be completed only by January next year.

“We will complete the construction of Ambathan-Gyalthum section within December this year. The other Sindhu-Gyalthum stretch is likely to be completed by January 2018,” he told The Himalayan Times.

He further added that excavation of the shorter stretch had speeded up this month, from the previous 15-16 metres a day to 19-20 metres a day to meet the deadline.

According to the Board, so far 1,044.8 metres of the tunnel remains to be excavated and the figure is expected to come down to three digits by this weekend. Today, 19.6 metres of the tunnel was excavated, it informed.

The board blamed the presence of weak rock and the contractor’s inconsistency for delay in completion of the task. Earlier, the contractor had promised to begin delivery of water from the Melamchi river by March 26, 2018.

The total length of the tunnel is 27.5 km. It has three stretches each spanning from Sundarijal to Sindhu, from Sindhu to Gyalthum and from Gyalthum to Ambathan that covers 9.5 km, 8 km and 9 km respectively. Of them, the longest one is the Sundarijal-Sindhu stretch covering 9.5 km, the construction of which was completed on December 28, last year.

Originally, the MWSP was to be completed in 2007. The second deadline expired in 2016. On April 3, this year, the deadline was again extended to October 2017. The time-frame for completing tunnel construction was fixed for July 2017.

The presence of weak rock has been blamed for missing the deadlines repeatedly.

Started on 21 December 2000 with assistance from Asian Development Bank, the MWSP aims to reduce drinking water scarcity in the Valley.

The project envisages supplying 510 million litres (170 million litres daily in the first phase and remaining 340 million litres daily in the second phase to the Valley from the Melamchi, Yangri, and Larke rivers of Sindhupalchowk district.