Melamchi Water Supply Project fails to expedite tunnel work

  • Tunnel excavation has decelerated from 25 metres to 18 metres per day

Kathmandu, November 14

Melamchi Water Supply Project has failed to expedite tunnel excavation although only one kilometre tunnel remains to be dug.

For more than six months now, MWSP has been facing difficulty in digging tunnel due to appearance of weak rocks. As a result, tunnel excavation has decelerated from an average of 25 metres per day earlier to 18 metres per day.

Melamchi Water Supply Development Board said although the contractor had earlier promised to complete tunnel work by December, it was unlikely to accomplish the task given the current pace of work.

Deputy Executive Director at MWSDB Ramakanta Duwadi said due to appearance of weak rocks, the intended breakthrough points of Gyalthum-Ambathan and Sindhu-Gyalthum stretches of the tunnel are likely to shift by approximately 200 metres.  “Due to weak rock problem, the intended breakthrough point of Gyalthum-Ambathan stretch lies just 17 metres from Gyalthum and 430 metres from Ambathan,” Duwadi told The Himalayan Times, adding, “So, the intended breakthrough point will be automatically shifted around 200 metres towards the Gyalthum side.”

He said the contractor faced the difficulty along the Sindhu-Gyalthum stretch, where the intended breakthrough point is just 170 metres far from the Gyalthum side and 536 metres from the Sindhu side.

According to MWSDB, 1,149 metre tunnel remains to be excavated along both the sections.

In September this year, the contractor of Melamchi Water Supply Project CMC Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna had promised to complete Ambathan-Gyalthum stretch by November and Sindhu-Gyalthum stretch by December. But given the current pace of tunnel excavation, the contractor is likely to miss that deadline too.

Duwadi said that apart from weak rock problem, the contractor’s negligence had also delayed tunnel breakthrough. He said the contractor had done nothing to make up for the delay which was caused due to halting of work for 18 days during Dashain and Tihar festivals.

The contractor had also promised to begin supplying water to Kathmandu Valley by March 26.

The 27.5 km tunnel comprises three stretches — Sundarijal-Sindhu, Sindhu-Gyalthum and Gyalthum-Ambathan. Three stretches cover 9.5 km, 8 km and 9 km respectively. Of the three adit tunnels, the longest stretch Sundarijal-Sidhu, which covers 9.5 km, was completed on December 28 last year.

The contractor has said that it would take at least three months for it to start supplying water to Kathmandu Valley after tunnel breakthrough.

The Melamchi project’s first deadline expired in 2007 and second deadline in 2016. On April 3 this year, the deadline was extended to October 2017.

Started December in 2000, the Melamchi Water Supply Project is assisted by the Asian Development Bank.


  • Melamchi tunnel breakthrough in December