Nepal | January 17, 2021

EDITORIAL: Water crisis

The Himalayan Times
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The Valley has witnessed the population growth geometrically every time the country witnessed major political upheavals since the 1990s

It has been 26 years since the multi-million dollar ambitious Melamchi Drinking Water Project was initiated with a view to supplying drinking water to over four million population of the Kathmandu Valley which has been facing water crisis since long.

The concept of developing MDWP was developed way back in the 1990s immediately after the restoration of multi-party democracy.

It took many years to actually conceptualise the idea and look for potential donors who could provide funds for the project. Waters from the Melamchi, Yangri and Larke Rivers will be brought to the Valley through a 27-km long tunnel, the major task of the project that has remained incomplete yet.

Earlier a Chinese contractor was awarded to construct the tunnel but its contract was terminated after it failed to make any progress.

Many donor agencies, including Norad, which had pledged to provide loans for the project walked away after the Royal takeover in 2002-2005 further delaying the completion of the much-hyped project that has turned to be a white elephant.

It is still unclear when the people of the Valley will be able to quench their thirst with water from the Melamchi river.

According to the plan, it was supposed to complete MDWP by 2007. But it has been nine years since the last target of its completion was set.

Under the first phase, 170 million liters of water a day was supposed to have been brought in the Valley which was a 40 million liters shortfall of the 2007 projection.

Daily demand in the Valley has already crossed 370 million liters.

If the current trend of work continues it will take another decade to bring in water from the Yangri and Larke Rivers as their DPR is being developed. Officials at the project said Rs. 16 billion has been spent so far and an additional Rs 23 billion will be required to complete the rest of the project.

Still, 12 kilometers of the 27-km long tunnel has yet to be dug and it will take one more year to dig the remaining portion as only a one kilometer tunnel is dug per month.

The Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited says that demand of potable water will rise from 210 mld in 2007 to 510 mld by 2025 and it will be more than 510 mld by 2030. But MDWP will not have any other sources of water that can be added to meet the growing demand of the Valley.

The government has to find other sources of water from within the Valley tapping the already depleting ground water resource and building several reservoirs to tap the rain waters surrounding the Valley hills are better options.

The ground water resource cannot be further exploited given the depletion of water level which has already gone down as deep as ten metres. The Valley has witnessed the population growth geometrically every time the country witnessed major political upheavals since the 1990s.

If the population growth in the Valley is not controlled by providing equal and proportional development opportunities outside the Valley under the federal setup the water crisis in the Valley will remain unresolved.

Matter of heart

When it comes to donating for a noble cause, it is not necessary that moneyed people give more and people with less money less or nothing at all.

It is a matter of the size of one’s heart, though the possession of money makes giving much easier and bigger when the heart bleeds.

Most of our business tycoons are not seen to have contributed according to their capacity when society badly needs their support whereas we have seen many less endowed people who have given away more generously.

In a Bhaktapur school, students are reported to donate money on their birthdays to a fund meant to support libraries in rural villages. Each student contributes fifty rupees and each teacher five hundred rupees.

According to the principal, this practice has been started to instill a sense of social responsibility in the students. The idea is praiseworthy. This was a departure from the school’s past practice which required students to bring along expensive chocolates to school for distribution.

This approach could be extended to other areas of life where people could spend less on extravaganza and something for a social cause.

While the school management seeks to teach its students a practical lesson in social responsibility, whether it also practices it is a matter of question. Many school owners disappoint.



A version of this article appears in print on May 17, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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