Minister Magar seeks Italian govt mediation in Melamchi deadlock

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jun 8, 2018-

The government is exploring diplomatic channels to resolve the deadlock of Melamchi project that is running behind schedule because of the contractor’s slow work.

The Water Supply ministry has requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to open diplomatic channel with the Italian government because the Italian contractor - Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC) – has not kept its commitment to complete the project as per schedule. The project work has been sluggish even after repeated reminders from the Melamchi Water supply Development Board and the ministry to expedite work. Water Supply Minister Bina Magar on Thursday met with Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and requested him to talk to the Italian government to help resolve the issue with the contractor.

During the meeting, Minister Magar said the contractor did not follow the action plan, and he broke his own commitment. This issue would give the Italian government negative publicity if they do not put pressure on the contractor.

The contractor had agreed and vowed to complete all tasks listed in the action plan from May 1 to August 30 with August 15 as the target date to supply water from Melamchi to Sundarijal.

“Delay in the national pride project like Melamchi would also affect other projects. The government should use diplomatic dialogue with the Italian government to express their concerns to the CMC head office,” Magar urged Foreign Minister Gyawali.  

After completing digging of the tunnel in April, the government had set a tentative target of supplying water to residents in Kathmandu Valley by October.

Slow work in tunnel inverting and other constructions threatened the government deadline. A meeting held on April 26 between Melamchi Development Board, Asian Development Bank, the Consultant Engineers (Eptisa) and the CMC decided to complete the action plan by August 30. The CMC had agreed to divert Melamchi water to Sundarijal on August 15. During the two meetings held on May 10 and May 17, the contractor promised to follow the timetable and put aside their demand of additional Rs1.65 billion from the government. Although the delay issue is under consideration with the Dispute Board, the contractor had promised to continue the work as per the action plan.

However, the contractor’s work progress did not match his verbal commitment. A ministry team found out only 52m of invert lining was done, far less than the planned 210m per day. As per the action plan, the contractor should have completed 6km of inverting and tunnel finishing per month to stay abreast of the agreed schedule.

Published: 08-06-2018 09:27

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