Tunnel for Melamchi project to be ready by 2013

Kathmandu, January 20:

Construction of the 26-km long tunnel to bring water from Melamchi Valley to Kathmandu Valley will start from January 2009, if things move smoothly, an official said today.

“We hope we will see beginning of the construction of the 26-km-long tunnel January next year,” said Krishna Rana, deputy executive director of Melamchi Water Supply Project. He said this while addressing an interaction on the future of Melamchi, organised by Nepal Forum for Environment Journalists (NEFEJ).

He said that the main donor, Asian Development Bank would probably extend the loan agreement with Nepal on February 8, which will decide the future of the $500 million project. ADB has the share of providing loan of $123 million for the project.

A mission from ADB has come recently to Kathmandu in this regard. “Once the tender for tunnel construction is awarded, the task will be complete in 54 months ie by 2013,” he said.

He added that the construction of the water treatment plant will be follow the construction of the tunnel. He also informed that meetings with the consumers’ groups from Kabhre and Helambu are on. Earlier, a team of journalists had visited the area and held interactions with the locals.

Bhupendra Basnet, general secretary of NEFEJ, said that a tussle between the project and the locals is going on since long time and this has affected the project. “State priority, political commitment, concern of the Kathmanduites, intention of the NGOs and cooperation of the locals of Melamchi are important factors to make the Melamchi project a success,” he said, adding that the water from Melamchi will not come if things go on like this.