April 8, 2019 01:25 AM NPT
Here is something for which the government of K P Sharma Oli can take credit, though his administration alone may not have contributed to it. The construction of 12.2-kilometer long tunnel of Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project, a major component of Nepal’s national pride project, is almost complete and this is happening a year before the deadline and without raising additional budget costs. The deadline for construction had been set for two and a half years and total of Rs 10.56 billion budget had been allocated for it. But the project is getting completed within 17 months since the construction started and within the allocated budget. Bheri-Babai is going to benefit farmers and locals of the surrounding areas in many ways. For one, the dam at Chiple of Surkhet will divert the water of Bheri River and generate hydro electricity from a powerhouse at Hattikhola. Nearly 51,000 hectares of land in Bardiya and Banke districts will get irrigation facility from this project and it will also generate 48 megawatts of electricity.
The secret of success is technology. The tunnel boring machine was used to construct the tunnel. This technology helped speed up the work. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is going to inaugurate the tunnel in the mid-April. Bheri-Babair is the example of how project completion can be achieved given that right technology is in use and the project officials work sincerely. Other mega projects can take a leaf out of this success book. For example, tunnel boring machine could be used for other development projects as well. Experts have said that other development projects can gain momentum if they follow the determination shown in Bheri-Babai project. Bheri-Babai success comes at a time when almost all major projects are plagued by persistent delays and thus it has become a story to look up for other projects.
Infamous delay in Melamchi Drinking Water Project has already frustrated the Kathmandu residents. The project that was to be completed by last Dashain now awaits bad fate owing to cancellation of contract with the Italian company and multiple conflicting interests of minister and the bureaucrats concerned and even the supposed misappropriation of funds. Likewise, only seven out of 21 national pride projects have achieved 50 percent progress according to the recent reports. There have been multiple extensions of deadlines and project costs are rising every single day, yet the progress is very slow. The 456 megawatt Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower, Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairawa, West Seti Hydropower Project, Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track, Budhigandaki Hydropower Project and many others are staring at our face. The government should explore every possible way to complete them on time. Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has been criticized for talking big and delivering a little on development fronts. If he can get these projects complete on time, he will surely regain the public trust. Bheri-Babai project has shown us the way to do it. The government should not hesitate to apply the learning from this success story in other projects.