Tunnel to complete ‘within a year’Hit hard by last year’s Gorkha earthquake and India’s blockade, works on the Melamchi Drinking Water Project is regaining momentum.
Hit hard by last year’s Gorkha earthquake and India’s blockade, works on the Melamchi Drinking Water Project is regaining momentum.
Project officials said construction of the diversion tunnel is scheduled to be completed within a year.
The government had claimed that the first phase of the oldest Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded project would be completed by April 2016, and that the valley would get 170 million litres of water per day, but the plan failed to materialise due to the earthquake and the embargo.
As of now, only 16km of the 27.5km tunnel has been completed. However, considering the fact that Italian contractor CMC Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna dug 932 meters in March and 800 metres in April, project officials are hopeful of completion of the works within a year.
“The work volume decreased in April due to some unforeseen technical problems at Gyaldum area, which was sorted out, and the contractor has promised to dig a kilometre a month from May,” said the project’s chief Ghanshyam Bhattarai, adding project authorities will review the contractor’s progress after the first week of May.
ADB said the change of the consultant is one of the major reasons for the newly-gained momentum. “After EPTISTA was appointed as the new consultant, the relation between the contractor and the consultant has been improved,” said ADB Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama. “The good relation has been reflected in the form of good progress in work.”
The new consultant was appointed in May 2015. The relation between the contractor and the previous consultant turned sour after the former accused the latter of not providing the design document in time.
Once the tunnel is completed, other works such as concreting and plastering of the floor and fixing up of the gates at various exit points will start.
“Such tasks will take around six months,” said Bhattarai. “If everything goes as planned, Kathmandu will get water from Melamchi by the end of October 2017.”
Yokoyama also believes if things remain normal, the completion of the project is realistically within the stipulated date.