Melamchi tunnel work halted

Kathmandu, April 30

Melamchi Water Supply Project achieved tunnel breakthrough few weeks ago. However, no progress has been made thereafter as work has been halted for the last two weeks.

The project has to complete the tunnel work within three months of tunnel breakthrough, but now uncertainty looms large over completion of tunnel work within the given deadline.

Even after 20 days of tunnel breakthrough, tunnel concretisation has not started.  According to MWSP officials, the contractor is reluctant to start the construction saying that they have not provided with enough budget to undertake the concretisation work that demands heavy amounts of cement and gravel.

About six to 12 inches thick roller-compacted concrete needs to be maintained across the floor of the tunnel called ‘invert lining’. The walls and ceiling of the tunnel will also have to undergo thick concretisation called ‘shotcreting’ until the final support is completed.

According to MWSP spokesperson Rajendra Prasad Panta, the contractor has to complete invert lining of 40-metre stretch of the tunnel every day to meet the deadline.  “If the contractor continues work as per the agreement, it needs minimum 1,200 sacks of cement every day,” Panta added. The tunnel construction was undertaken by France based Contractor CMC Cooperative Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna. Human Resource Manager of the contractor company Devi Raman Adhikari said, “The tunnel work has been halted for the last 15 to 16 days as workers have gone on leave after completion of tunnel break through. The construction work will be affected tomorrow also as workers will have a day off on the occasion of May Day.”

Adhikari also said there was shortage of cement which had delayed the construction work. Invert lining of around 3.5 km tunnel had been over before the tunnel breakthrough but no notable progress has been reported after the breakthrough.