The first ever tunnel boring machine (TBM) brought to Nepal dug about 28 metres into the hills at the construction site of the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project on Monday, delighting project officials who had expected progress of about 15 metres daily.
If the TBM goes on digging at this pace, the 12-km tunnel will be completed within 15 months, and the project will be finished before its March 2020 deadline.
“The project started using the TBM to dig the tunnel on November 6, and initially it was moving forward slowly as machine operators fine-tuned the equipment. However, the boring machine is performing very efficiently currently,” said Rukmagat Khanal, senior divisional engineer at the project office.
According to Shiva Kumar Basnet, chief of the multipurpose project, the office has revised the target to 20 metres of tunnel daily and is planning to complete it within two years.
The TBM has a 5-metre diameter and is 250 metres long. It is being used to dig the tunnel through which water from the Bheri River will be diverted to the Babai River to irrigate farmland and generate electricity.
The Bheri Babai Multipurpose Diversion Project is a national pride project located at 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.
Some of the salient features of the project are easy access to the road network, fewer environmental hazards, less use of water from the Bheri River and little negative impact in the vicinity of the dam site.
Also, the project requires only 30 hectares of land to build the dam.
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 sales of electricity.Published: 2017-12-06 08:28:25