KATHMANDU, July 23: The government has prepared an action plan to start repairing the damaged Melamchi Drinking Water Project after two months.
The Melamchi Drinking Water Development Committee is preparing to start the work of removing stones, ballast, sand and soil in the headworks area of Melamchi from the fourth week of September if the access road damaged by the floods is ready by then. The future of the project is in doubt as the flow of the Melamchi River is not under control and there is no access road to Ambathan, the headworks of the project.
Ram Kumar Shrestha, executive director of the Melamchi Drinking Water Development Committee, said that the headworks could not be reached until the access road was constructed as the flood and landslide completely damaged eight kilometers of access road and five bridges in Melamchi. “The floods and landslides have damaged eight kilometers of access road to Melamchi,” he said. “Currently one can reach the project either by walking or by a helicopter. In the initial phase, eight kilometers of access road and five bridges need to be rebuilt to get the work done at the headworks area.”
Executive Director Shrestha sees the need for the government to start the work immediately by making an integrated action plan. “It may take a long time for one body to solve the problem of the Melamchi project. So there is a need to move forward by distributing responsibilities to different government bodies," he said. “If all the bodies work together, Melamchi water can be pumped into the Valley by next February.”
The action plan prepared by the committee states that the work of the access road will start from the third week of September. The committee will start removing stones, ballast, sand and soil from the headworks area from the fourth week of September.
The structures at the headworks have been buried more than 15 meters due to sand and ballast that came along with the Melamchi River flood and landslide. Five bridges, including two on the access road to the Melamchi project and three near the headworks, have been damaged. The temporary dam used to divert water from the Melamchi River has also been completely damaged by the floods and landslides.
More than 10 meters of the river section from the temporary dam at the headworks of the project to the Ambathan portal is covered with stones, ballast and gravel. Stones, ballast, sand and soil are piled up from the Ambathan portal to Melamchi Bazar. The committee has prepared an action plan to open the Ambathan portal and dewater the tunnel from the third week of October.
Similarly, the target is to complete the reconstruction of the temporary dam damaged by the floods and landslides by the third week of December. The committee has a schedule to divert water from the temporary dam to the Melamchi tunnel in January if the work is completed as planned. After 15 days, the water will be released into the valley.
Executive Director Shrestha said that the project damaged by the floods and landslides cannot be brought into operation immediately with the initiative of any one government body. "If there is coordination among the intergovernmental bodies, the water of Melamchi River can be brought to the taps of the people of the valley soon," he said.
The Department of Roads under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport will have to rebuild eight kilometers of access road and five bridges destroyed by the floods and landslides. The project will be facilitated if the Melamchi River control and prevention work is done by the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation and the Department of Water Resources and Irrigation.