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Pre-construction work of Bheri-Babai project set for mid-July completion

- PRAKASH ADHIKARI, SURKHET

Mar 19, 2017-The actual construction of Bheri-Babai Multipurpose Project is expected to begin in mid-July, as pre-construction works of the irrigation-cum-hydroelectric project are likely to be completed by that time, according to Min Raj Dhakal, the project’s senior divisional engineer. 

The national pride project will divert 40 cubic metres of water per second from Bheri River to Babai River to irrigate 51,000 hectares of land round the year in Banke and Bardia districts. The project will also generate 48MW electricity. The tunnel of the project is being built using a tunnel boring machine for the first time in Nepal. 

Currently, the project developer is building a platform to lay the tunnel boring machine. 

“The machine will arrive at the site by the end of this fiscal year,” said Dhakal. China Overseas Engineering Group, the contractor of the project, will be importing the machine, which can dig 15-60 meters of tunnel daily, from the United States. 

The boring machine will be used to dig a 12km-long and 4.2m-wide tunnel at the Chure range that lies between Bheri and Babai rivers. The machine can only be used after workers manually dig 150 metres of the tunnel. 

“The Chinese contractor has already completed digging 65 meters of tunnel and has expressed commitment to complete the remaining work by the end of this fiscal year,” said Dhakal. 

The government plans to implement the project in two phases, including diversion and irrigation components. 

The diversion component consists of construction of the headwork, headrace tunnel and powerhouse, while the irrigation component will be implemented by the Babai Irrigation Project. The project developer is also planning to complete construction of tunnel and powerhouse simultaneously. 

Late former prime minister Sushil Koirala had inaugurated the construction of the powerhouse of the multipurpose project in April 2015.

The irrigation-cum-hydroelectric project is one of the strategic projects of the country, as it is expected to ease food crisis in the mid-western region by increasing agricultural production. 

The government had invited bids for the project in July 2012, but lack of resources and delays in appointing a contractor prevented the four-year project from moving ahead in time. However, after a series of hiccups, the construction of the project has gradually started to gather momentum. 

The total cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs16 billion. The project is being developed with the government’s own resources. It is expected to generate Rs4.50 billion in revenue annually--Rs2 billion from electricity and Rs2.50 billion from agricultural sector.

Published: 19-03-2017 10:46

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