Prime Minister Dahal's landlord stalled the Melamchi pipeline

Published On: December 29, 2022 08:45 AM NPT By: Himal Lamsal

KATHMANDU, Dec 29: The Saleung-CIPEL JV, which was awarded the contract below the estimated cost under the guise of authority and power, has stalled the construction of the pipeline and overhead tank in Melamchi. Shailung got the contract to build a 160 km pipeline and overhead tank of the Melamchi project in a JV with Indian company CIPEL at a cost of 1.41 billion rupees. The deadline extended for the second time by the Kathmandu Utpatya KhanepaniLimited (KUKL) Project Implementation Directorate (PDI) has also expired in August 2022.

The physical progress of this plan is only 20 percent. The directorate has again decided to extend the deadline to the construction company till the end of June 2023. Sharda Prasad Adhikari is the owner of Sailung Construction. Prime Minister and CPN Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been living in his house. When Dahal's daughter in law Bina Thapa Magar was the then water supply minister, the official had won the contract for the project for almost 600 million less than the estimated cost.

The directorate had prepared a cost estimate of 2.50 Billion rupees for this plan. The JV won the contract at a cost of less than 600 million. According to the directorate, five contractor companies participated in the bid. SAILUNG - CIPEL JV got the contract because it bid the lowest amount according to the Public Procurement Act.

A contract was signed between the directorate and the contractor company in March 2019 to complete the construction within 30 months. According to the contract agreement, the pipeline and tank construction should have been completed by now, but due to the delay of the contractor company, the overall physical progress of the project is limited to only 20 percent. Rajendra Sapkota, project director of the directorate, said that Sailung-CIPEL JV is delaying the construction of an overhead tank for the pipeline extension of Melamchi. "The progress of the construction company so far does not look encouraging," he said. “We will cancel the contract if the pipeline and overhead tank are not constructed even within the deadline extended for the third time”, he added.

According to the contract, the construction company has to extend the pipeline by 160 km. “So far, the slope of the third lift of the overhead tank is going on. In the pipeline expansion of Melamchi, only 25-30 km of the pipeline towards the minor has been laid. The work towards the major pipeline has not been done much," he said. "Even if the new contract process is started, it will take 2-4 months. That's why we extended the deadline only as a last chance for this construction company to work”.

The directorate has so far extended 1,500 km of pipelines. Similarly, the 77 km Melamchi truckline has also been prepared. With the distribution of Melamchi water, Melamchi water is now leaking in various places. According to the directorate, so far the new pipeline of Melamchi has been found leaking at only three places. Maintenance work is going on in those places as well. In partnership with the Asian Development Bank, pipelines and water treatment tanks in Melamchi have been constructed at 10 locations by investing around 21 billion rupees.

From the Melamchi project, 170 million liters of water has come to the valley every day. Out of that, 130 million liters of water have been distributed proportionally to people's homes and 40 million liters of water have been used for testing Melamchi. Prakash Rai, the spokesperson of KUKL, said that during the distribution of water in Melamchi, there were leaks in more than 300 places.

"There is a problem of leakage in the old pipeline more than the new pipeline," he said. There is a daily demand of 43 million liters of water.

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