KATHMANDU, Aug 4: Technical error has been blamed for the breakage of one of the sluice gates on the tunnel of the Melamchi Water Supply Project earlier last month.
An engineer and a driver of the project died due to the flood resulting from the breakage of the sluice gate on July 14 while carrying out a test run of the tunnel by releasing water in it.
The Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation had formed an investigation committee under the convenorship of Joint Secretary Ramakanta Dawadi to look into the possible causes of the incident and submit a report.
The investigation committee has concluded that the mishap took place as the gate was fixed from outside instead of fixing it from the inner side of the tunnel. It also stated that the technical design review had not been carried out lately before the test run was conducted.
The committee has suggested carrying out a review of all the four sluice gates in the tunnel. It also said that the nuts and bolts in the gates were not tightened properly.
Water that accumulated for up to one week had gushed out of the tunnel when the sluice gate was opened at the project construction site at Helambu rural municipality-1 in Sindhupalchowk district while carrying out the test to assess the tunnel's function. This eventually led to the flood, killing an engineer and a driver of the project.
While engineer Satish Gohit and driver Radha Krishna Thapa Magar were swept away by the flood, Melachi project consultant Dorje Pemba and engineer Shekhar Khanal were injured in the incident. The body of engineer Gohit was found on the following day, but Thapa Magar is still missing.
It is said that it takes around 15 days to fill water for carrying out the test of the tunnel. But the water had found its way out only within a week's time, breaking the sluice gate. The water had been diverted to the tunnel from the Melamchi river for carrying out the trial on July 5.
Ministry's spokesman Ritesh Kumar Shakya said the consulting company and the company that constructed the sluice gates should take the responsibility of the accident. While Itas Company worked as the consultant company, an Indian company, PIL, had constructed the gate. The Italian company, CMC, which carried out the construction works of the Project, had hired PIL company for the construction of the sluice gates of the tunnel.