Treatment plant to run on overdrive

  • melamchi water supply project
- GAURAV THAPA, Kathmandu

Aug 10, 2015-

Melamchi Water Supply Project will start distributing water to Kathmandu in the next eight months, the government has claimed, but the accompanying water treatment plant can only process half the water released by the project fuelling fear of wastage.

The government has been saying that the first phase of Melamchi project will be completed by April 13, 2016 when it will start pumping 170 million litres of water per day (MLD) from the Melamchi River in Sindhupalchok to the Valley. But the under-construction water treatment plant in Sundarijal, which is scheduled to finish simultaneously, has the capacity of processing 85 MLD water.

A senior project official, however, said the deficit in water treatment capacity can be compensated by overloading the plant. “The water will not be wasted,” executive director of Melamchi Water Supply Development Board Ghanashyam Bhattarai assured. “While the plant is designed to process water once every 24 hours, we can extend it to thrice daily to minimise wastage.”

A joint venture of Australian company VA Tech Wabag Limited and Indian firm Pratibha Industries Limited had won the Rs4.2 billion contract to construct the water treatment plant by November 2015. But due to delays, the completion date has been revised to coincide with completion of the first phase of the overall project. 

According to project officials, 71 percent of construction has been completed. The main objective of the water treatment plant is to treat raw water from Melamchi River to potable standards according to current World Health Organization Guidelines. Water is supposed to be channelled to the plant through a 27-km long tunnel which is also under construction.

Bhattarai said they could not build a treatment plant to process all the 170 MLD water due to budget crunch. After ADB assured to fund another plant with 85 MLD capacity, Bhattarai said they will begin study and tender process in March 2016 and construction should complete in two years from then.

The Valley is reeling under water shortage for decades now. The Valley’s water supply authority, Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited, supplies only around 90 MLD water in dry season and around 150 MLD in the rainy season while the demand is over 350 MLD.

Consequently, Melamchi Water Supply Project became one of the biggest recipients of the national budget this fiscal with Rs4.95 billion allocated for the project. 

Drinking water from the project will be supplied to all households in Kathmandu within two years, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat had promised during his budget speech. Constructions of 700-km water distribution network and 55-km bulk distribution system in the Valley along with nine water reservoirs are also part of the project.

The Melamchi Project has further plans to supply additional 170 MLD water each from the Yangri and the Larke rivers in the second and third phases respectively. Bhattarai said that different treatment plants will have to be constructed for these but hinted that the water treatment plant in Sundarijal could be designed to accommodate waters from these rivers as well. After full completion, MWSP will be able to pump about 510 MLD water to Kathmandu.

Though the Melamchi project was envisioned in the late 1990s, the first agreement to construct the project was signed in 2003 with funding from various donors and developmental partners. The project was supposed to be completed by 2007.

Published: 10-08-2015 13:07

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