Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Key first section of Melamchi Water Tunnel completed

The key section of Melamchi Tunnel — 9.5 km from Sundarijal-Sindhu section — has been completed today. Today 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.
Along with completion of this section, 22-km of the total of 27.5-km tunnel of the Melamchi Water Supply Project has been completed as the tunnel construction has been carried out from Gyalthum-Ambathan and Gyalthum-Sindhu. Two similar breakthroughs are expected to be made in a few months.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government today celebrated the breakthrough of the first key section of the Melamchi Tunnel. When completed, the Melamchi Tunnel will carry to Nepal’s thirsty Kathmandu Valley 170 million liters of water per day from the Melamchi River and another 340 million liters of water from the Yangri and Larke Rivers by 2021.
“We are literally seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” said country director of ADB’s Nepal Resident Mission Kenichi Yokoyama. "We have been committed to this crucial project through thick and thin and are glad that water will soon start flowing.”
The just-completed 9- km tunnel section runs between Sundarijal at the end of the Melamchi Tunnel, where water will flow into a water treatment plant for distribution to Kathmandu residents, and Sindu, further upstream. Two other sections of the full 27.5-km Melamchi Tunnel will be finished in 2017 with the tunnel expected to start carrying water from the fourth quarter.
“It is a joyous moment to people who are instrumental in bringing the project to the current status," said joint secretary and executive director of the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board Ghanashyam Bhattarai. "We consider this achievement a major milestone towards completing the construction of one of the longest water diversion tunnels," he said, adding that they appreciate the support and cooperation provided by people of the Melamchi Valley.
“The tunnel construction will be completed by July and it will take another three months to supply water to Kathmandu Valley," he added. "This achievement has made us confident the water will be supplied to Kathmandu by next October."
According to Bhattarai, some 99 per cent work of the water treatment plant in Sundarijal has also been completed so far. Water from the Melamchi river will reach Sundarijal Treatment plant in 48 hours and it will be supplied to households within another 24 hours after treatment, he said. "Another 340 million liters of water daily will be brought from the Yangri and Larke rivers by 2021 through the same tunnel."
The ADB has provided a total of $145 million in loans for the $355.4 million Melamchi Water Supply Project and has been working since 2000 with the government to build the tunnel, 29 km of access roads and – with financing from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) – a water treatment plant. The April 2015 earthquake and and the blockade imposed by India created subsequent difficulties in getting construction materials were the latest setback to the project.
The project – that was initiated some 17 years ago and has become a prestige issue for the ADB – is also providing social development support to families in the Melamchi Valley like health, education, and income generation programmes.
Italian Contractor Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC) started work on the project in July 2013 after the contract with the Chinese contractor was terminated in September over non-performance.
The ADB has lent Nepal $170 million through the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Improvement Project to provide water connections and expand reservoirs so the 3.5 million people of the Kathmandu Valley can benefit from the new tunnel and receive affordable and reliable water.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members, 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.

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