Surkhet, April 16
Tunnel construction of the Bheri-Babai Multi-purpose Diversion Project, a multi-billion rupees national glory project based in Surkhet, has been completed.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli formally declared the ‘breakthrough’ in tunnel construction achieved one year before the stipulated deadline at a ceremony in Chiple of Bheriganga Municipality, in Surkhet, today.
At the breakthrough-ceremony, Prime Minister Oli pressed a button on a remote control at 11:50 am and the tunnel boring machine emerged from the tunnel after 20 minutes.
Construction of the tunnel had started from the third week of November two years ago, with the help of TBM, an ultra-modern technology in tunnel boring which was used in the project for the first in the country.
The contract between the Irrigation Department of the Government of Nepal and a Chinese company — China Overseas Engineering Pvt Ltd — had stipulated that the tunnel construction would be complete by the end of March next year.
The 12.210 kilometre-long tunnel starts from Hattikhal of Bheriganga Municipality and ends in Chiple across the Chure range. The tunnel
will channelise water from the Babai river from Chiple to Hattikhal.
“This is a model project constructed with the help of the TBM, which doesn’t require any driver,” said project director Sanjiv Baral.
“As completion of the project well before the deadline is a significant achievement that could set an example for the entire country, it called for announcement of the breakthrough by the prime minister,” Baral explained.
Meanwhile, though the most challenging part of the multi-purpose project has been completed, the remaining work related to building other infrastructure is yet to happen. In a case in point, construction of the barrage used for electricity generation and irrigation has just started.
According to Baral, a six-gauge barrage will be constructed in Chiple. The barrage will be 114 metres long and 14 metres tall.
The project will generate 46.8 MW electricity that will be fed into the national grid. For the same, construction of a powerhouse has started in Hattikhal.
The contract of the project stipulates the total cost of the tunnel construction somewhere at 10.50 billion rupees. By mid-March, around eight million rupees was spent on tunnel construction.
As per the revised masterplan of the Irrigation Department, the entire project is expected to be completed by the fiscal 2022-23 and cost around 33.19 billion rupees. The project will irrigate 51,000 hectare farmland in Banke and Bardiya.
As per the projection of the Irrigation Department, the project is expected to yield an income of around Rs 4 billion annually from electricity generation.
Similarly, the round-the-year irrigation facility from the project is expected to push up agricultural production and generate indirect income of around three billion rupees annually.
A version of this article appears in print on April 17, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.
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