By Modnath Dhakal
Kathmandu, July 6: Water of the Melamchi River was sent to the recently completed tunnel of the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) on Sunday morning.
The project has created a temporary diversion at the river to send the water into the tunnel while the head works are under construction.
Head works construction has witnessed about 70 per cent progress. The construction of the head works had begun after the Italian contractor fled the country leaving the project incomplete and without paying about Rs. 1.5 billion to the sub-contractors and vendors.
Of the structures of head works, construction of coffer dam, DI pipeline and six hydro mechanical gates has been completed while erection of hoists and control panels and construction of stilling basin and intake are under way, said the project.
After time overrun of about one and a half decades and multiple extensions in deadline, the national pride project is successful to test the 27.5 km long tunnel divided into three sections – Sundarijal to Singhu, Sindhu to Gyalthum and Gyalthum to Ambathan.
About 260 litres water per second is being supplied to the tunnel, and it would take about 20 days to fill it up. Project Chief Tiresh Prasad Khatri said that the water would be held in the tunnel for 10 days to see if there were any leakage and the water would be sent out, which would take another 20 days.
“In total, it will take about two months to completely test the tunnel since we have to carry out the repair works after emptying the tunnel,” he said.
The Kathmandu Valley will regularly receive the water from the Melamchi River after two months via the temporary head work. The deadline to complete the construction of permanent head work is set for mid-January 2021, but the MWSP is hopeful to complete it before that.
If Melamchi is completed within the stipulated time, it will be the second pride project to be completed after the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa which is set to commence test flight by December this year.
Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation Bina Magar said that with the testing of the tunnel the project has entered a new phase. “The project is almost complete, and we have started diversion work. The water from the Melamchi River will soon be distributed to the households in the valley,” she said.
The government has urged the people in Sindhupalchowk and the Kathmandu Valley to apply cautions as there were chances of water levels going up with the arrival of water in the valley.
The MWSP will cost about Rs. 30 billion. The project has witnessed multiple deadline-extension in the past many years.Earlier, in 2017, the project had planned to funnel water from the Bagmati River into the water supply pipelines but that was not materialised.
– The Rising Nepal