Transit mixers stranded in Birgunj

  • Project officials hold public holidays and polls responsible

Kathmandu, December 4

Frequent holidays and the second phase of provincial and parliamentary elections have left eight transit mixers of Melamchi Water Supply Project at the Nepal-India border in Birgunj since the last few days.

According to Melamchi Water Supply Development Board, the transit mixers arrived in Birgunj last week from Bangalore of India.

The MWSDB stated that due to the three public holidays, on December 1, 2, and 3, the customs clearance process was halted and the process was unlikely to be completed until after the December 7 elections as the border would be sealed for 72 hours starting midnight today for elections.

Deputy Executive Director at MWSDB Ramakanta Duwadi said the mixers would most probably arrive in Kathmandu after the elections. “Though we tried to get customs clearance for the transit mixers before the elections, we failed to do so due to the three consecutive public holidays.” Speaking to THT, Duwadi said, “With those eight transit mixers, we were hoping to begin concretisation of the tunnel at the earliest. But now we have no option but  to wait until after the elections.”

The government is importing those mixers for concretisation of the Melamchi waterway tunnel. It is said that after the mixers arrive, tunnel concretisation work will move ahead at a pace of 200 metres a day. MWSP contractor CMC Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna has already promised to complete the work within 100 days of arrival of the equipment.

It is said six to 12 inches thick roller-compacted concrete will be maintained across the invert lining depending upon the hardness of the rock. The remaining wall will be plastered normally.

According to MWSDB, the work on about two kilometres of the tunnel has already been completed through manual system. MWSDB said the advanced technology would help the project supply water to Kathmandu Valley from March 2018.

A transit mixer is equipment used for transporting concrete/mortar or ready mix material from a concrete batching plant directly to the site where it is to be utilised. The device is loaded with dry material and water. The interior of the transit drum is fitted with a spiral blade.

MWSDB said each transit mixer costs around Rs 7 to 8 million. Under the project, still a 845-metre section of the tunnel remains to be excavated. The total length of the tunnel is 27.5 km that comprises three sections, namely the Sundarijal-Sindhu, Sindhu-Gyalthum and Gyalthum-Ambathan stretches that are 9.5 km, 8 km and 9 km long, respectively.

Out of the three adit tunnels, the longest one is the Sundarijal-Sindhu stretch which covers 9.5 km, the construction of which was completed in December, last year.

Due to the presence of weak rock at the site, the pace of tunnel construction has become slow. The project’s original deadline expired in 2007 and the second deadline in 2016. On April 3 this year, the deadline was extended to October 2017. The tunnel construction deadline was fixed for July 2017. But MWSP failed to meet the deadline citing the presence of weak rock at the site.