Chandan Kumar Mandal, The Kathamandu Post, 11 April 2018
In a landmark achievement, the Melamchi Water Supply Project moved a step closer to completion on Tuesday with a breakthrough in tunnel digging in the 7.5km Sindhu-Gyalthum section.
The only remaining stretch having been dug out, the tunnel measuring 26.3 kilometres in total has been through. The final leg of tunnel excavation was completed with the blasting of rock at Sindhu at 2:30pm on Tuesday, according to Rajendra Prasad Pant, senior division engineer with the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board. The breakthrough was expected early Tuesday morning but works had taken more time than previously assumed.
With the major project component over, Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation Bina Magar said residents of Kathmandu Valley would receive water from the Melamchi river in Sindhupalchok before Dashain (October).
Minister Magar, on February 18, had directed the authorities concerned to complete tunnel excavation within 25 days. The work was over in 21 days.
Overall tunnel digging was divided into three sections after excavation began in June 2010. The breakthrough in 9.5km Sundarijal-Sindhu section, the longest section of the project, was achieved in December 2016. Likewise, digging of the 8.3-km tunnel along the Ambathan-Gyalthum stretch was completed last December.
According to MWSDB Executive Director Ram Chandra Devkota, finalising the tunnel and other structures like headworks intake structures, earthworks, ventilation shafts and other tunnel support structures would take three months. Another month is required for testing water supply through the newly laid pipelines.
The government will celebrate the progress by organising a formal programme, to be attended by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Minister Magar, on Thursday.
According to the ministry, Rs24.22 billion of the Rs27.76 billion total estimated cost has been spent so far.
On Tuesday, Minister Magar also directed expediting works on the distribution front, being undertaken by the Project Implementation Directorate under the Melamchi Sub-project 2.
For distribution of 170 million litres of water daily, diverted from Melamchi in the first phase, construction of large service reservoir tanks at different locations of the Valley, bulk distribution system (BDS), and distribution network improvement have been carried out under the project.
Nine large storage tanks, each with 50 cubic metres capacity, at Arubari, Mahankalchaur, Bansbari, Balaju, Panipokhari, and Kirtipur in Kathmandu; Khumaltar in Lalitpur and Katunje and Tigni in Bhaktapur districts have been constructed.
According to project statistics, of the total 78kms of the BDS, required for supplying treated water from Sundarijal plant to the large storage tanks, 66.44km pipeline has been laid.
As much as 671.709km pipeline laying work, of the 700km total distribution network, has been installed with a total 50,797 households connected as of February 18, 2018.
The second phase of the project, which is likely to begin in 2019, will bring 170 million litres of water each from Yangri and Larke rivers, supplying 510 million litres water daily to Kathmandu Valley.