Nepal | January 23, 2021

EDITORIAL: Melamchi deadline

The Himalayan Times
Share Now:

The delay in completing the MDWP has led to cost overruns involving billions of rupees

Officials of the Melamchi Drinking Water Project (MDWP) have claimed that they would be supplying drinking water to the denizens of the Kathmandu Valley by mid-April this fiscal. Earlier, the MDWP had set a target of supplying drinking water to the Valley last August. But they had to reset the deadline after two gates at Ambathan broke all of a sudden, leaving two persons dead and three others injured, when the water was released from the weir into the 27-km-long tunnel heading towards the Sundarijal-based water reservoir. Although 99 per cent of the project’s works are said to have been completed, some technical testing works remain to be completed to make sure that all technical aspects of the project are foolproof. The gates which broke in August have already been repaired, and other technical testing is underway. A four-member German technical team is currently conducting the final evaluation of the project, including the structure of the tunnel. Officials said it will take another two months to complete the study before the water is released into the tunnel. Under the first phase, the MDWP will supply 170 million litres of water every day. In total, it has a plan of bringing 540 mld every day when the second and third phases of the project are completed.

Funded mainly by the Asian Development Bank, Japan, OPEC fund, JICA and the government of Nepal, the MDWP has seen many ups and downs in the course of its execution.

Envisaged in 1998, the project actually kick-started in 2007, setting 2013 as its completion deadline. But it took seven more years just to complete the tunnel and other infrastructure thanks to heavy corruption within the ministry, work delay by the contractors — three contractors were changed in the course of the work — and faulty design of some major parts of the project. The project got further delayed after the CMC, an Italian contractor, unilaterally broke the contract in 2019, alleging that two bureaucrats in the Ministry of Water Supply demanded millions of rupees in kickbacks. The delay in completing the project on time has led to cost overruns involving billions of rupees.

The MDWP is not the only multi-billion rupee project that has got so delayed. There are several other projects which have also not been completed on time. Poor planning in the initial stage, technical modification in the middle of the project, frequent change of officials with the change of guard in the government and poor monitoring by the donor or lending agencies are some of the major reasons behind the delay of major development projects in Nepal.

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, which is tasked with investigating corruption in the government agencies, has not launched any probe into corruption taking place in the Melamchi project. Even if the MDWP officials claim that they will be supplying water to the Kathmandu Valley by mid-April, there is no guarantee that the people of the federal capital will be able to quench their thirst by that time as testing of the distribution channels in the Valley have yet to be completed.

A generation will have already passed before the water from the Melamchi project flows onto the taps of the Valley.

Dishonest cabbies

In Kathmandu (and elsewhere), taxi drivers are known to bargain for the fare before driving the passengers to their destination. The passenger is, thus, left at the mercy of the driver and ends up paying nearly double the normal fare or even more. Despite the many attempts by the traffic police to rein in the unscrupulous drivers, passengers continue to be fleeced. It, therefore, surprises no one that the cops on duty booked 37 drivers in Kathmandu on Friday for cheating the passengers or tampering with the taxi meters in the Kathmandu Valley alone.

One problem with the taxi service is that there are only a handful of small taxi companies, and most of the taxis plying the streets have been rented by the drivers, who are out to make a fast buck. They lack service motive, and even during an emergency, taxi drivers might be reluctant to provide their services.

While the taxi drivers continue to swindle passengers, ride hailing service providers are making inroads in the capital. So apart from stronger vigil by the traffic cops, heavy penalties, including forfeiture of the driver license or even the vehicle itself for a certain period of time, are needed to stop the drivers from cheating the passengers.




A version of this article appears in print on January 04, 2021 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Nepali leaders congratulate US Prez Biden

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 21 Separate messages of felicitations from the top leadership of Nepal were transmitted to the high offices of the United States of America today on the assumption of office by the newly elected leadership. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari sent a congratulatory message to Jose Read More...

NHRC urges govt to save Ganga Maya’s life

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 21 The National Human Rights Commission urged the government to take effective steps to ensure justice to Ganga Maya Adhikari and protect her life. Issuing a statement today, NHRC spokesperson Dr Tikaram Pokharel reiterated the call to implement the agreements reached in the Read More...

NOC provides employment to acid attack survivors

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 21 Oil Corporation has provided jobs to two women who survived acid attack. The NOC provided the job for one year under its corporate social responsibility. The beneficiaries are Pabitra Karki from Okhaldhunga and Basanti Pariyar from Nawalparasi. They were provided jobs Read More...

United Nations urged to tell Nepal government to protect civic freedom

Physical attacks on journalists, rights activists continue to undermine civic space KATHMANDU, JANUARY 21 CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, has called on UN member states to urge the Government of Nepal to double its efforts to protect civic freedom as its human rights recor Read More...

Ministry of Labour and Employment

Door opens for employment of Nepali youths in Israel

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 21 Implementation Protocol was signed between Nepal and Israel today for implementation of the agreement related to temporary employment of Nepali workers in the labour market of Israel. At a programme held at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security today, Dir Read More...

Burnley stun Liverpool to end unbeaten home record

LIVERPOOL: Champions Liverpool suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to lowly Burnley on Thursday, ending their 68 match unbeaten home record in the Premier League as their title defence continued to fade. An 83rd minute penalty from Ashley Barnes, after he was brought down by goalkeeper Alisson Becker Read More...

Youth association close to Oli shows support for government

RAJBIRAJ, JANUARY 21 At a time when protest against the controversial dissolution of the Parliament by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is spreading across the country, the ruling party’s sister wing National Youth Association Nepal organised a demonstration in support of the prime minister in Sapt Read More...

Basnet selected coordinator of Press Organisation

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 21 The second national gathering of Press Organisation Nepal unanimously elected joint-coordinator Ganesh Basnet as the coordinator. Basnet replaces coordinator Mahesh Dahal, who was removed on the ground of lack of activity in carrying out organisational responsibilitie Read More...