Melamchi water project fails to meet tunnel excavation target

Kathmandu, April 21

Although the government is applying every possible measure to speed up tunnel excavation of the Melamchi water supply project in order to meet the deadline of supplying water to Kathmandu Valley by October 2017, the project is unlikely to meet the target.

According to the Melamchi Water Supply Project, the daily rate of tunnel excavation is around 15 to 20 metres per day against the minimum speed of at least 38 metres per day required to complete the excavation of the remaining 3.8 km within July 2017. The speed has fallen because the project has encountered sections with weak rocks.

Deputy Executive Director of the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board Ramakanta Duwadi said the project should accelerate the pace of tunnel excavation to meet the deadline. “We need to excavate more than one km in a month to meet the tunnel construction deadline of July 2017, and the deadline has to be met if we are begin water supply by October 2017,”

he told The Himalayan Times, adding, “If the current speed continues, it will take a few more months to complete the excavation.”

At 15 metres per day, the project may take eight more months to complete excavation, and at 20 meters per day, it may take at least six more months.

The delay could set the project back by three months or more. “It will take another three months after the completion of tunnel excavation to begin water supply, so the project is riding on the completion of the excavation at the moment,” Duwadi said, “We have tried to expedite the pace, and we have obliged to the contractor’s demands, but the pace has not increased yet.”

The contracting company CMC Cooperative Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna had asked the government to provide additional funds to make sure that the project is completed on time when the weak rocks were uncovered that slowed the pace of excavation.

The project said the government had provided additional funds of US $ 3 million after the contractor said they were unlikely to complete tunnel excavation on time without using better technology and demanded additional funds in February to import advanced machinery.

As per the progress report so far, 3.8 km of the tunnel in total — comprising 1.9 km at Sindhu-Gyalthum stretch and 1.9 km at Gyalthum-Ambathan — has yet to be excavated.