Govt, donor ‘confident’ of large undertakings after Melamchi TunnelSuccessful completion of the tunnel for diverting Melamchi water to Kathmandu has given the government and the donor agency confidence in executing mega development projects in Nepal.
Successful completion of the tunnel for diverting Melamchi water to Kathmandu has given the government and the donor agency confidence in executing mega development projects in Nepal.
Breakthrough in the 7.5km Sindhu-Gyalthum section was achieved on Tuesday, marking completion of the total 26km water diversion tunnel, the longest in the country.
“Nepal has shown that it can do it. Despite the project being very complex, the government and partner agencies have successfully achieved the breakthrough,” said Hun Kim, the Asian Development Bank director general for South Asia.
The ADB has provided a total of $145 million in loans for the $355.4 million Melamchi Water Supply Project and has been working since 2000 with the government to build the tunnel as well as 29 km of access roads.
Drinking Water Minister Bina Magar said the breakthrough in tunnel digging was a milestone for supplying water to millions of people in Kathmandu Valley, which has been facing acute shortages of water for years.
Speaking at an event organised on Thursday to celebrate the success, the minister said, “We still have piles of work before people of Kathmandu can drink water from Melamchi. We shouldn’t waste any moment.” She urged all the agencies concerned to finish the remaining works on time. Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun also joined the celebration.
Casciaro Salvatore, Asia manager of Cooperative Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna, the project contractor, said, “This is one of the most challenging projects we have undertaken. Excavation in this section was challenging due to soft rock. We’re committed to bringing water to Kathmandu as early as possible—in three to four months.”
Water coming from the project will benefit an estimated 1.3 million urban inhabitants—or 158,549 households—with more reliable supply and higher quality water. Once completed, an estimated 170 million litres of water will be diverted to Kathmandu from Melamchi every day in the first phase. The government plans to complete all the works and tunnel testing by early July.
Once water reaches the treatment plant in Sundarijal in July, testing of the new distribution system will start in August. The government hopes to supply the water to households from October. Kim pledged support also for the second phase of the project. The ADB was ready to provide assistance until “all the Valley residents get water 24X7”.