Tunnel boring machine to be installed within a month

  • bheri babai diversion multipurpose project
- PRAKASH ADHIKARI, SURKHET

Oct 9, 2017-The first ever tunnel boring machine (TBM) to be used in a construction project in Nepal will be installed within a month. The TBM will be used to dig the tunnel of the the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project.

Previously, the project office had estimated that the installation of the TBM would take two months. However, technicians of the US based manufacturer of the TBM, Robbins, are on track to complete the installation before Tihar.

Currently, around 35 technical and non-technical people from the US, China and Nepal are engaged in the installation process of the machine. “Initially, we thought the shortage of labourers during long vacation Dashain would push back the installation work. 

But the problem was solved after the US based company offered a three-fold rise in wages to the people working during the vacation,” said Min Raj Dhakal, senior divisional engineer of the project.

China Overseas Engineering Group, the contractor hired to develop the project, had imported the tunnel boring machine manufactured by Robbins. 

The manufacturing company will assemble the TBM and demonstrate the use of the machine by digging a 5-metre tunnel.

After installation, the 250-metre long machine will chew its way under the Chure hills to create a 4.2-metre wide and 12-km long tunnel through which water from Bheri River will be diverted to Babai River. It will take around 2 to 3 years to dig the entire tunnel. The Chinese contractor has installed a 4 MW diesel plant at the project site to generate power to operate the machine.

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 dam 15 metres high 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 yields. 

Some of the salient features of the project are easy access to road network, limited environmental hazards, less use of water from the Bheri River and little negative impact in the vicinity of the dam site. Also, the project only requires 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 moving ahead. 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 energy sales.

Published: 09-10-2017 08:11

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