Preps completed for tunnel construction at Bheri-BabaiPreparations for the construction of the Bheri-Babai Multipurpose Diversion Project have been moving faster in recent days and preliminary work to start digging a tunnel has been completed, the project office said.
Preparations for the construction of the Bheri-Babai Multipurpose Diversion Project have been moving faster in recent days and preliminary work to start digging a tunnel has been completed, the project office said.
The multipurpose project will divert 40 cubic metres of water per second from the Bheri River to the Babai River to irrigate 60,000 hectares of farm land in Banke and Bardia districts and generate 48 MW of energy. The total cost of the project is around Rs16 billion.
“Preparations for digging a tunnel which will divert
water from the Bheri to the Babai have reached the final stages,” said Min Raj Dhakal, senior divisional engineer of the project.
The tunnel will be dug by using a tunnel boring machine brought from China. This is the first time that such a machine is being used in Nepal. Various measures have been taken to protect the tunnel from landslides, according to officials. Scarce fuel was made available to the project during the time of the Indian embargo which enabled it to continue preparatory work for the tunnel.
Former prime minister the late Sushil Koirala had inaugurated the power house of the diversion project in April 2015, paving the way for the construction of the much-delayed national pride project.
As per the plan, tunnel digging will be completed in the first phase followed by electricity generation and irrigation facility. According to project officials, the tunnel boring machine will be used to dig a 12-km-long tunnel under the Chure hills between the Bheri and Babai rivers.
Construction workers will gouge out the first 150 metres of the tunnel and then the machine will take over. It can dig 15-60 metres of tunnel daily.
There are 260 workers engaged in the construction work. China Overseas Engineering Group is the contractor for the project.
As per the plan, water from the Bheri will be redirected to the Babai by erecting a 15-metre-high dam at Chiple of the Chhinchu-Jajarkot road. The dam and power house will be ready when the tunnel digging work is completed, according to project officials.
A study is also being carried out about preparing a security post and the status of aquatic animals as part of the project is located inside a national park, Dhakal said.
The project will affect Chhinchu, Ramghat, Mehelkuna, Dahachaur, Gumi and Lekhapharsa VDCs in Surkhet district and Belawa VDC in Bardia. It is one of the country’s ambitious projects, and is expected to ease the food crisis in the Mid-Western Region by helping to increase production.