Nepal | June 16, 2019

Water supply from Melamchi might be too little, too late

Himalayan News Service

The tunnel is projected to be completed by July 2017 and the second phase by 2022 as long as everything goes according to the plans developed

File photo of Melamchi Drinking Water project tunnel.

File photo of Melamchi Drinking Water project tunnel.

Kathmandu, July 11

Construction work at Melamchi Drinking Water Project has been left in a lurch for over a decade, though the project was to be completed by 2012.

The Project Implementation Directorate of Kathmandu Valley Drinking Water Limited was slated to supply water for up to four hours a day to Kathmandu Valley dwellers provided that construction of the project was completed by 2012. But with the project’s deadline extended to 2017 and rapid growth of the Valley’s population, the PID has been struggling to meet the schedule.

According to the census in 2011, the population of Kathmandu Valley was around 2.70 million. Now it is around 4 million. With the increasing population, the total demand of water in the Valley has reached up to 370 million litres per day whereas the existing supply is 100 million to 150 million litres per day.

“Though PID aims to supply water to the Valley denizens daily, we cannot make an exact estimation yet as the project has been delayed by more than five years and there is rapid increment of demand,” Anil Bhadra Khanal, deputy project director at PID told The Himalayan Times.

“We have to meet the demand of more than 370 million litres per day with 170 million litres from Melamchi and the existing 100 million to 150 million litres per day distribution” he added.

Khanal said daily and adequate supply of water was only possible after completion of second phase of construction.

So far, 17.7 km of the total 27.5 km long tunnel has been constructed. According to the project, construction work is under way with a target of starting water supply from September 2017. Executive Director of the project Ghanashyam Bhattarai said the second phase of construction will begin after completion of the first phase by September 2017.

“If we maintain the current speed, the tunnel will be completed by July, 2017 and water supply will begin by next Dashain,” he said, adding, “Second phase work will be completed by 2022 ceteris paribus.”

There are at least 200,000 taps across the Valley that supply water once in nine to 13 days under Kathmandu Valley Drinking Water Limited.

Started in 21 December, 2000, Melamchi Water Supply Project is an Asian Development Bank assisted project which aims to improve the overall scenario of water and waste water utility of Kathmandu Valley.

The project covers a part of Indrawati and Bagmati watershed and includes areas of five districts. The key water diversion facilities are located within Sindhupalchowk and Kavrepalanchowk districts, whereas water treatment plant, water distribution and the ancillary structures are located in Kathmandu Valley.

Melamchi Project envisages 510 million litres water per day for Kathmandu Valley from Melamchi, Yangri and Larke rivers of Sindhupalchowk District.

The project’s first phase is expected to bring in 170 million litres water per day in the Valley once the 27.5 km diversion tunnel from Melamchi to Sundarijal is completed.

The ambitious Melamchi water project was envisioned in the late 1990s, and the first agreement for its construction was signed in 2003 with funding from various donors and development partners. The project was originally scheduled to be finished by 2007.

A version of this article appears in print on July 12, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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