Water dreams

One more welcome endeavour getting its due highlight is the pre-Melamchi water project. The completion of the Melamchi project to supply over 500 million litres of water to the Kathmandu valley will probably take another 15 years. This has prioritised alternative sources to meet the growing water needs of the Kathmandu inhabitants. Herein, it may be worth mentioning that due to the shortfall in the water supply the massive exploitation of the ground water by Kathmandu Upatyaka Kahanepani Limited (KUKL) has added another dimension to the depleting underground stock which can lead to another threat. The KUKL estimates point out that the daily water needs of the valley is somewhere around 320 million litres, but the water supply limited has only been able to supply 160 million litres in the wet season, while it drops to 100 million litres in the dry season. The huge gap between the demand and supply is not easy to fix, though the Melamchi project was undertaken as a long-term solution, it has been mired by many controversies and obstacles making its immediate contribution out of question. This could have stirred the KUKL to come up with the proposal of the pre-Melamchi, which is to cost over 1.2 billion rupees.

The likes of pre-Melamchi had been proposed in the past with the numerous rivers and streams in the valley as the focal point, but they were out of contention with the narrow-minded vision of the planners and administrators. And, like the hydropower sector, the water sector is also riddled with inefficiency and the inability to think out of the narrow confines of bureaucracy. The investment of 650 million by the government, as asked by KUKL, based on the feasibility and other technical inputs, could have the Kathmandu valley receiving some 50 million litres of water, in addition to the present supplies in around two and half years. It may seem ambitious by any standards but would serve the people are concerned. However, the possibilities had been pointed out earlier, and the water supply body has taken some concrete steps which are praiseworthy. The government’s response to this proposal is yet to be seen. An indepth study of the said project may be necessary as to the viability that the KUKL is confident about.

The project, by the confidence exhibited by the KUKL officials, must have the reliability for meeting at least another 50 percent of the water needs of the valley at the end of the stipulated time. On top of this, water leakage has been identified as eating into the KUKL supply to the consumers. The main pipelines have been reported to be over 70 years old in most of the places, which clearly means that huge amounts of water is wasted through leaks. Unauthorised

tapping of the mains, especially during the wet season, too sees less water reaching the valley

households. This all adds to a leakage to the tune of 50 percent of the total supply. Besides controlling leakages by replacing the old mains, the maintenance and utilisation of the stone spouts that abound in the valley, rain water harvesting and

innovative projects to tap the water sources must make their entry, not only for Kathmandu but every human settlement in the country.

Near yet far

Strange at it may sound that a letter posted to a neighboring district took 11 days in arriving comes as no surprise. A letter posted in Morang district took this long in arriving at Sunsari district only an hour’s drive away, or where it would take less than a day on horseback to deliver the letter. Because the letter took so long in arriving, it caused much inconvenience to those concerned and also raised their

expenses. The authorities attribute the delay to bandhs. This might sound plausible, but in this

case it might not be the sole reason for the time it took the letter to reach its destination. Despite the rapid advancement made in the IT sector, many still rely on the postal service.

The postal services are mostly reliable. There are always exceptions like the above mentioned one. However, there are also reports of people tampering with the mail and opening them without authorization. However, the delay in the mail service should not be entertained, and those concerned should do their duty sincerely so that they do not let down those who depend on their services.