Nepal | September 22, 2020

‘Technical error caused Melamchi tunnel accident’

Rastriya Samachar Samiti
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Kathmandu, August 3

A committee formed to investigate Melamchi tunnel incident has concluded that one of the sluice gates on the tunnel of the Melamchi Water Supply Project had broken due to a technical error.

A project engineer and a driver had died due to the flood resulting from the breakage of the sluice gate while conducting a test run of water flow in the tunnel two weeks ago.

The Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation had formed the investigation committee led by Joint Secretary Ramakanta Dawadi to look into the causes of the incident and submit a report.

The investigation committee has concluded that the accident took place as the gate had been fixed from outside which should have been fixed from inside the tunnel. It also stated that the technical design review had not been carried out.

The committee has suggested carrying out a review of all four sluice gates in the tunnel. It said it had found that the nuts and bolts in the gates had not been tightened properly.

Water that had accumulated for up to one week gushed out of the tunnel when the sluice gate opened at the project construction site in Helambu Rural Municipality, Sindhupalchowk district, while carrying out the test to assess the tunnel’s function, leading to flood.

Project consultant Dorje Pemba and engineer Shekhar Khanal were injured in the incident. Engineer Satish Gohit and driver Radha Krishna Thapa Magar had gone missing after being swept away by the flood. The body of engineer Gohit was found the next day after the accident while Thapa Magar is still missing.

It is said that it takes around 15 days to fill water for carrying out the test of the tunnel. But the water had found its way out only within a week’s time, breaking the sluice gate. The accident took place on July 14. The water had been diverted to the tunnel from the Melamchi River for carrying out the trial on July 5.

Ministry Spokesman Ritesh Kumar Shakya said the consulting company and the company that constructed the sluice gates should take responsibility for the accident. According to him, Itas Company is the consultant company while the Indian company, PIL, had constructed the gate. The Italian company, CMC, which carried out works of the project before had hired PIL for construction of the sluice gates of the tunnel.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 4, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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