When will Melamchi reach KTM?
Kathmandu, July 12: The Melamchi Water Supply Project, which is attached to the Kathmanduite’s dreams of quenching their thirst of drinking water, said to be completed years ago, has not been completed yet, thereby casting uncertainties when this dream would eventually come true.
Although the project was said to be started two decades ago, it started late and has not been completed so far. The project plagued by political instability and frequent changes of government has, however, seen smooth operation at present.
At present, the works of tunnel construction has been going on at Ambathan near Melamchi river source, at Gyalthum and Sindhu at the project site of Melamchi in Sindhupalchok district and Sundarijal in Kathmandu.
]According to the project plan, water from Melamchi river source will be brought to Kathmandu through a 26.3 km tunnel with water flowing six cubic meters per second.
The source of water, the Melamchi River flows down from its source at Nakhuche through Ribarma, Ambathan, Gyalthum and Melamchi, and when other two rivers Yangri and Larke are merged to it, it is known as the Indrawati River, a tributary of Dudhkoshi River.
When the water resource is used, only 66 percent will be brought to Kathmandu after leaving one third of it for downstream. Asian Development Bank has funded the project.
The Project has also been providing Rs. 2,200,000 a year for each VDC to provide benefit to the local people of various affected VDCs of Sindhulalchok and Kavre districts. For this, Rs. 60 million annually is provided by running a Social Upliftment Project (SUP).
Although the project works are already gaining momentum, the access road to the mouth of the tunnel from where the water enters for Kathmandu has not been constructed yet. The road only reaches at Ambathan at present. But much works of the tunnel have been done downwards.
As the tunnel works began very late, only three kms out of the total 26.3 kms have been completed so far.
An army personnel deputed for security of explosives of the project and the Langtang National Park assumes it could take even ten years to complete the project.
At present, the works of tunnel construction are underway from Sundarijal in Kathmandu and both sides from Sindhu and both sides from Ambathan. The works of building a reservoir in the source also remains to be done. The size of the tunnel will be 12.7 square meters.
The works are underway inside the tunnel and oxygen has been sent into the tunnel to supply oxygen through large plastic pipes so that there be no lack of oxygen inside the tunnel while working on it.
The starting point of the tunnel lies at a place called Ribarma at an altitude of 1414 meters and the water will be channeled to Sundarijal at an altitude of 1406 metres.
The project which began in 2055 BS will cost 200 billion rupees and it will cost Rs. 4. 83 billion for civil construction. The contractor of the project is China Railway 15 Bureau Corporation and the CMIIC whereas the consultant to the project is Poyry of Finland and Multidisciplinary Consultants Pvt. Ltd of Nepal.
Although the locals had obstructed in the project site especially by the local Tamang community saying that their ‘God’ will be angered by the construction, there is no obstruction in it since September 2010.
A local of Melamchi, Nawaraj Dhital says as the local people can get employment and other benefits from the project, no one should obstruct it.
As there are two beautiful waterfalls falling on the Melamchi river near Ambathan where there are tunnel works being done, the place could also be developed as a tourist attraction.
If the works are moved ahead without any hindrances from any Bandas, strikes and other obstructions, and if there is political stability in the country, we can be optimistic that the people of Kathmandu will have the opportunity to drink Melamchi water very soon.
By Tirtha Prasad Bhattarai