Melamchi project unlikely to be completed in October

Published On: June 22, 2017 01:40 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 22: Tunneling work of Melamchi Water Supply Project is at a seriously slow pace, indicating that bringing Melamchi waters to Kathmandu Valley by October is impossible. 

The contractor is digging only 11 meters per day. This means it would take another nine months to complete tunnel works.

Speaking at the Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting of Asian Development Bank in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi said that the slow pace of tunneling works would affect the plan to bring Melamchi water in Kathmandu by October. 

About three kilometers section of the 27-kilometer tunnel is still to be dug.

“We have held frequent discussions to expedite tunneling work. But there is no indication of improvement,” Subedi said in a rather disappointing tone. 

Following significant progress in tunneling in August last year and thereafter, the government had revised the target and announced that Melamchi water will arrive in Kathmandu by October. 

Subedi instructed one and all to make a workable plan and set new target accordingly. He also said that the contractor should be made responsible if it is delaying the project.

Rajendra Panta, the spokesperson for the Melamchi Water Supply Project, said weak rocks in the Sindhu upstream section has affected tunnel digging works. “The contractor should have dug 25 meters per day as per the plan,” he said, adding that project completion date has not been revised due to unpredictable geology in the remaining section of the tunnel.

Speaking at the meeting, ADB Deputy Director General, Diwesh Sharan, stressed the need for close monitoring and urged concerned agencies to take needful measures to accelerate works.

The project had made a record progress in budget spending last year. But MWSP, like many other projects funded by ADB, have reported slow work performance in recent months. 

According to Sharan, Gautam Buddha Regional International Airport, Tribhuwan International Airport and Earthquake Emergency Assistance projects are the other low-performing projects.

Payment dispute between Chinese contractor and local contractor has affected the Gautam Buddha Regional International Airport project. Works have been stalled for the past four months.

Too much dependence of the Chinese contractor on the local contractor and poor financial management are key problems in the project, according to Om Sharma, the project manager.

Tourism Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari claimed that the disputes will be settled in few days. 

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