More than 50 percent of tunnel works completedThe Behri Babai Multipurpose Project has completed digging more than 50 percent of the 12-km long tunnel as well as safely passing the weak zone of the tunnel located at around the mid-way of the tunnel.
The Behri Babai Multipurpose Project has completed digging more than 50 percent of the 12-km long tunnel as well as safely passing the weak zone of the tunnel located at around the mid-way of the tunnel.
The project has dug 6.4 km of the tunnel by Saturday evening using a tunnel boring machine (TBM), the first time such an equipment is being used in Nepal.
As the project has completed digging more than 50 percent of the tunnel in nine months, project officials expect that the rest of the tunnel will be completed in the next 8 to 9 months.
“We have completed digging the segment of the tunnel in the weak zone where there was geographical fault as per our detailed project report (DPR). Therefore, it is expected that the tunnel boring ahead will be smoother,” said Shiva Kumar Basnet, the government appointed project chief of the multipurpose project.
The tunnel that the TBM is boring will be used to divert water from the Bheri River to the Babai River to irrigate farmland and generate electricity.
Meanwhile, the project office is also reviewing the DPR for the construction of the powerhouse and headwork of the hydropower project which is another component of the project. “After reviewing the DPR, we will call for the global tender to appoint another contractor of the multipurpose project,” said Basnet.
While China Overseas Engineering Group has been appointed as the contractor to work on the irrigation component of the project, global tenders will be called to appoint a contractor for the construction of the hydropower component. Bheri Babai is a national pride project located in Bheri-Ganga Municipality in Surkhet district in western Nepal. It will have a 15-metre-high dam and divert 40 cubic metres of water per second from the Bheri River to the Babai River. The water will be used to irrigate 51,000 hectares of land round the year in Banke and Bardia districts.
The project will also generate 48 MW of electricity.
The irrigation-cum-hydroelectric project is one of the strategic projects of the country, as it is expected to ease the food crisis in the mid-western region by increasing agricultural yield.
The government had invited bids for the construction of the project in July 2012, but lack of resources and delays in the appointment of a contractor prevented the four-year project from getting off the ground. The construction of the project was finally inaugurated in April 2015 by the then prime minister, the late Sushil Koirala.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs16 billion. It is expected to make an indirect financial contribution of Rs3.1 billion to the state, and a direct revenue contribution of Rs2.1 billion through electricity sales.