Melamchi project given 2017 deadline
- Post Report, Kathmandu
Oct 25, 2016- The parliamentary Development Committee has told the government, the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation and the Melamchi Drinking Water Project to complete the scheme to bring water from the Melamchi River to Kathmandu by September 2017. “It is way behind schedule,” chairman of the House panel Rabindra Adhikari said Monday. “The project must now be prepared to supply water to the Valley by September 2017.”The Melamchi Drinking Water Project envisages bringing water from the Melamchi River in Sindhupalchok district through a 27.5-km tunnel to the parched Capital. Presenting a progress report of the Melamchi project, project chief Ghanshyam Bhattarai said the construction of the tunnel was on track, and that the deadline would be met. “Around 800 metres of the tunnel was dug in September,” said Bhattarai. “Currently, we have completed construction of around 20.6 km; and if we maintain the pace, the remaining 6.9 km will be completed within seven months.”
Although the government had claimed that the first phase of the project would be finished by April 2016, and that the Valley would get 170 million litres of water per day from the Melamchi River, it could not fulfil its promise due to last year’s devastating earthquakes and the Indian trade embargo. However, the construction has gathered momentum of late. In August, more than 1 km of the tunnel was dug, raising the hopes of Valley dwellers. The project’s performance in August was the best since the initiation of the construction work in 2001. “However, the construction work was disrupted in September due to the occurrence of festivals,” said Bhattarai. “We have also asked the contractor to expedite the construction work. We are very hopeful that we will meet the deadline.”Once the construction of the tunnel is completed, it will take another four months before water from the Melamchi River reaches people’s homes. According to project officials, the major problem they are facing in the tunnelling work is the rock condition.
“We are encountering ‘alternative bands’ (weak and strong) of rock every 50 to 100 metres of the way,” said Bhattarai. “Difficulties arise whenever we start digging through the weak section of the rock because of the formation of aggregates. We can dig only 4-5 metres per day through such sections.” He said that it was important to find a solution to complete the project on time. The project chief also expressed some dissatisfaction at the performance of the Italian contractor and said that the company comes up with a new excuse every now and then. Italian firm Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna took over the Melamchi project in July 2013; and as per the contract, it has to dig 40 metres of tunnel each day. However, Bhattarai said that he was satisfied with the performance of EPTISA, the Spanish consultant to the project. Meanwhile, the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Improvement Project has completed pipeline laying work at 60 places to distribute the water coming from Melamchi.