Breakthrough in 27.5 km Melamchi tunnel

Published On: April 11, 2018 06:09 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Water may reach Sundarijal by July end

KATHMANDU/SINDHUPALCHOWK, April 10: The tunnel digging work under the  Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) was completed on Tuesday afternoon,  seven years after the digging started . The breakthrough under the dream project, which has been much talked about  for  over three decades, has paved the way for bringing  Melamachi river water to Sundarijal through the 27.5 km tunnel. This will entail continuous work for about three more months including finishing and work in concrete. 

The tunnel breakthrough took place in the 7.5 km Sindhu Gyalthum section. The  two other major sections were already dug through before this. 

Melamchi water is expected to reach  Sundarijal by the end of July, said Rajendra Raj Panta, spokesperson of the Melamchi Water Supply Project. 

Despite delay in construction work on the project dams, 170 million liters of water per day will be diverted into the tunnel through temporary pipes so that water will be received at the treatment plant at Sundarijal. An agreement has been reached between  Italian contractor CMC (Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna), the consultant and the project office to arrange the temporary pipes as directed by government ministers and secretaries . 

Likewise, a sub-project under the main project will carry out the treatment of the water and  test the pipes and distribution network, all in the course of another one month. 

“The water will reach  households by Dashain  at least within the major distribution network,” said Panta.  

“For all this to happen the full-fledged mobilization of the work force and equipment will be required. Four shafts for releasing air along the tunnel will also be required,” he added. 

Speaking at a press meet on Tuesday, chief of sub-project 2 Tiresh Prasad Khatri informed that they will complete the treatment process and  testing of the distribution network and  reservoir within a month. “Then we will gradually supply water to  households,” added Khatri. 

A treatment plant of 80 million liter capacity is already in place and work on another similar treatment plant is underway. Officials of  MWSP informed that the second plant will be completed by the time Melamchi water  flows  to Sundarijal. 

Italian contractor CMC started work on the project in July 2013 after the contract with the Chinese contractor was terminated for non-performance. 

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and ministers are visiting the Melmachi project site  on Wednesday to formally announce the tunnel breakthrough, according to Bhoj Bikram Thapa, deputy director of Melamchi Water Supply Project.  

Melamchi Timeline
1970 -A committee to address water crisis in Kathamndu Valley  formed 
1988-British company identified Melamchi River as top priority 
1997 - Formation of Melmahci Water Limited 
1998 -Feasibility study, DPR and formation of Melamchi Water Supply Development Committee 
2000 - Loan agreement of Rs 120 million signed with ADB with completion target of 2007
2008-Project restructured
2009 - Contract agreement  with  China Railway 15 Bureau for tunnel work
2012-Chinse company announces unilateral contract termination, government scraps contract subsequently
2013- Italian contractor CMC appointed for remaining tunnel work 
2016 - New deadline of June 2018 set

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