Construction to be delayed by a year

  • The Department of Irrigation said that the tunnel digging work would be delayed as the equipment for the task had not arrived from the US
- J PANDEY, Kathmandu
Construction to be delayed by a year

Apr 8, 2015-

The construction of a tunnel under the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project is likely to be delayed by a year due to the unavailability of the proper equipment raising criticism that the foundation stone had been laid following a “hasty decision”.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had inaugurated the powerhouse of the project located in the Mid-Western Region last Thursday, kicking off the construction of the much-delayed national pride project.

The multipurpose project will divert 40 cumecs (cubic metre per second) of water from the Bheri River to the Babai River to irrigate 60,000 hectares of land round the year in Banke and Bardia districts besides generating 48 MW of energy.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs16 billion. As per the plan, a 14-km tunnel will be dug to provide irrigation and generate electricity. A dam will be erected at Chiple, Lekhpharsa of Surkhet and the tunnel will be dug along the Chure hills.

The Department of Irrigation said that the tunnel digging work would be delayed as the equipment for the task had not arrived from the US and that it would not happen anytime soon. “It will take 12-13 months for the equipment to arrive from the US,” said Madhav Belbase, director general of the Department of Irrigation. Technical experts have said that the project needs external assistance as it will be costly and technically difficult to construct a tunnel in the Chure area where the soil is loose. The government has started the first phase of the works with its own resources.  

“We will work to generate foreign assistance for the project,” said Irrigation Minister NP Saud. The project is estimated to generate Rs4.50 billion in revenues annually—Rs2 billion from electricity and Rs2.50 billion from agriculture. The government has allocated Rs2 billion for this fiscal year for the project which is scheduled to be completed in the next four years.

The government plans to implement the project in two stages—diversion and irrigation components. The diversion component consists of the headwork, headrace tunnel and powerhouse, while the irrigation component is being implemented through a separate project, namely the Babai Irrigation Project.

The government had invited bids for the project in July 2012, but lack of resources and delays in appointing a contractor had prevented the project from moving ahead in time.

Published: 09-04-2015 09:24

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