Kathmandu, September 3
The pace of tunnel construction at the Melamchi Water Supply Project shows that the project is unlikely to supply water to Kathmandu valley even at the end of 2018, even though project officials still hope to complete the project in time if the work gains momentum.
The three-member dispute board comprising representatives of the contractor and the employer had, on June 8, agreed on the final deadline for completing the project by August 30.
The Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation Bina Magar, in the much celebrated inauguration of the breakthrough of the 27.5 km tunnel on April 11, had declared water would be supplied through the tunnel to Kathmandu by mid-October, before Dashain.
However, nearly four months after the declaration, only 11.6 km tunnel work has been completed of the 26 kilometres. Around 1.5 kilometres of the tunnel does not need intensive concreting as a link road to the tunnel is used at various junctures.
Rajendra Raj Panta, senior division engineer at the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board said the contractor has improved working pace for the month of August, reaching an average of 120 metres per day. “The final finishing work was also recorded at 200 metres per day for several days.”
Panta said, “If the contractor maintains the pace of finalising 200 metres per day, we might meet the deadline for using the tunnel to pass water to Kathmandu by the October, around Dashain.” Panta, however, also said that it was very challenging to continue work for the next two months at the same pace. Construction work for the month of June was 63 metres per day, and 80 metres per day for the month of July. If the average working pace of 120 metres per day, as was the case in August, was maintained, it would take nearly four months to complete the final finishing of the tunnel. Even at the working pace of 200 metres per day, the tunnel would not be completed by October.
The construction is being carried by Italian contractor Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti (CMC) di Ravenna.
A version of this article appears in print on September 04, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.