Breakthrough in 22km Melamchi tunnel

- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Dec 29, 2016-

The Melamchi Drinking Water Project, one of the most eagerly awaited infrastructure projects in the country, has made a major breakthrough in the construction of the first key section of the 27.5 km tunnel.

The freshly dug 9km section runs between Sundarijal, where the lower end of the tunnel is located, and Sindhu upstream. 

With the milestone, the project developer has completed construction of 22 kilometres of the tunnel.

On Wednesday afternoon, the project developer used explosives to blast 

the two-metre section of the earth that divided the tunnel into two segments measuring 5,760 and 3,240 metres in length. 

“We consider this achievement a major milestone towards completing the construction of one of the longest water diversion tunnels,” said Ghanashyam Bhattarai, the project chief.  

Now, the Asian Development Bank-funded project needs to dig the remaining tunnels measuring 5.5km in total at Sindhu-Gyaldum and Gyaldum-Ambathan.

Once works at these sections are completed, the tunnel construction work will 

be over. 

The project developer has set a target of completing these works by June 2017 and delivering water to Kathmandu Valley within October 2017.

“We are literally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Kenichi Yokoyama, the ADB country director for Nepal. 

“We have been committed to this crucial project through thick and thin and are glad that water will soon start flowing.”

Although the government had claimed the first phase of the project would be over by April 2016 and the Valley would get 170 million litres of water per day from the Melamchi River in Sindhupalchok, it could not deliver on its promise due to last year’s devastating earthquakes and the blockade imposed by India.

Published: 29-12-2016 07:54

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