Bheri-Babai project’s construction resumesConstruction of much-delayed Bheri-Babai Multipurpose Project resumed on Sunday after a hiatus of more than a week due to a dispute between Nepali and Chinese workers.
Construction of much-delayed Bheri-Babai Multipurpose Project resumed on Sunday after a hiatus of more than a week due to a dispute between Nepali and Chinese workers.
The project will divert 40 cubic metres per second of water from Bheri River to Babai River to irrigate 51,000 hectares of land round the year in Banke and Bardia districts, besides generating 48MW electricity.
Nepali workers withdrew their strike after China Overseas Engineering Group, the contractor of the project, sent back a Chinese worker who was involved in brawl with a Nepali worker.
There are 26 Chinese and 260 Nepali workers deployed at the project site. Frequent brawls among the workers have been affecting project work.
According Min Raj Dhakal, senior divisional engineer of the project, the dispute between the workers has been resolved. “Now, the construction work will gather pace and will meet the February 2019 deadline,” said Dhakal.
This project will be using a tunnel boring machine, which can dig 15-60 metres of tunnel daily, for the first time in Nepal. After necessary infrastructure are ready, the project will import the machine either from China or the United States. The machine will be used to dig a 12km-long and 4.2m-wide tunnel between the two rivers. The machine will take over once the workers have manually dug 150 metres of the tunnel.
The government plans to implement the project in two stages—diversion and irrigation components.
The diversion component consists of the headwork, headrace tunnel and powerhouse, while the irrigation component is being implemented through a separate project, namely the Babai Irrigation Project. The project has also aimed at completing the powerhouse along with the tunnel. The then Prime Minister late Sushil Koirala had led the groundbreaking ceremony for the powerhouse of the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project in April last year.
The project is one of the country’s ambitious projects. It is expected to ease food crisis in the Mid-Western Region by increasing production. The government had invited bids for the project in July 2012, but lack of resources and delays in appointing a contractor prevented the four-year project from moving ahead in time.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs16 billion. The project is being developed with the government’s own resources. It is expected to generate Rs4.50 billion in revenue annually—Rs2 billion from electricity and Rs2.50 billion from agriculture.