April 12, 2018 02:00 AM NPT
Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) is perhaps the most delayed project in Nepal’s history. Melamchi River was identified as the source to address drinking water woes of Kathmandu Valley in as early as 1988. Kathmandu residents were officially promised of this project in the early 1990s when prime minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai announced to bring enough water for the valley residents from there. In the decades that followed various factors—inability of contractors to work as per the government guidelines and corruption scams among other things—became the defining feature of the project. Now it seems really close to completion after the breakthrough in digging remaining 7.5 kilometers long tunnel. This, we are told, has paved the way for bringing Melamachi river water to Sundarijal by the end of July. A total of 170 million liters of water per day will be diverted into tunnel through temporary pipes to treatment plant at Sundarijal. When the water will reach households by Dashain as promised, it will come as a huge relief.
Melamchi dream will materialize and will go a long way in addressing water woes of valley residents but not if the authorities resort to the slow pace of work. Thus this is the time for them to work day in and day out. Kathmandu has already suffered a lot for Melamchi water. The pipe laying work and the dust pollution it created affecting health of millions, the disruption of drainage system it entailed during the monsoon last year and many other hassles the public faced need not be emphasized. People suffered all this for the sake of water. Setting the new deadline, missing it and extending it again have become a regular feature of Melamchi project. The valley denizens had been said that they would get Melamchi water in their taps last Dashain. This was not meant to be. New target has been set for coming Dashain. It must not be missed.
The government of K P Oli must exploit all resources and direct the authorities, including the contractor, consultant and project officials, to comply with the new deadline. Melamchi so far has remained an elusive dream, which is why people are still not confident they will get the water in their taps before this Dashain. The perennial delay over the last two and half decades have made people so skeptic that they are not going to believe unless they get to use Melamchi water. Kathmandu residents are waiting for a real breakthrough and this will happen when they get uninterrupted water supplies in their taps. We hope all the stakeholders entrusted to complete Melamchi will realize this and work in a true spirit to make Melamchi dream come true within the new deadline. We have waited for it for way too long. We cannot wait any more.