After a protracted delay, the parched Kathmandu residents are all set to quench their thirst with the water from the Melamchi River. The Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) has indeed achieved a major goal of supplying water to the capital after almost two decades of its first commencement. The very idea of bringing Melamchi water to Kathmandu was conceptualised five decades ago. The fact that the project staggered can be surmised from the fact that it saw 18 prime ministers and 25 ministers from the time of its very start. The long-awaited water from the Melamchi River is a Nepali New Year 2078 BS gift to the people of Kathmandu.
The arrival of water from the Melamchi, a snow-fed river flowing from the lap of the Himalayan mountains in northern Nepal, has come as a relief to the thirsty Kathmandu locals, who were hit hard with the shortage of drinking water in the wake of rapid urbanisation and population growth in the Kathmandu Valley. The national pride project will, in the next couple of weeks, will pump about 170 million litres of water to the Kathmandu households which will alleviate the locals’ pain of getting uninterrupted water supply to their household taps. Currently, the MWSP is conducting a test of its water supply system by releasing 85 million litres of water to the households from its different reservoir tanks that store the water from the Melamchi River brought through a 26.5- kilometre tunnel.
The successful culmination of the vital water supply project has added yet another feather to the government's cap. However, one must not forget the contribution of the former Prime Minister late Krishna Prasad Bhattarai who was the one who kicked off the project declaring that the water from the Melamchi River would be enough for the Kathmandu households as well as would suffice to wash the capital streets. The abundance of water to be supplied by the MWSP would lessen the growing stress on groundwater. President Bidya Devi Bhandari, who formally inaugurated the water distribution in the capital the other day, was very precise when she stated that the distribution of the Melamchi water would discourage people to exploit groundwater thus allowing it to recharge.
The same will help conserve water sources that have been facing threats from climate change impacts, urbanisation and population growth. What is more, the government, according to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, has been planning to bring 340 million litres every day in the next three years. The water from the Yangri and Larke rivers would soon be added to the distribution system. The completion of the project has indeed been a milestone achievement. However, our authority will do well if they remain cautious not to allow any disruption in the water supply under any pretext. It is also a fact that the water demand will keep increasing with the growth of population and the government and authorities like MWSP will require finding ways and sources to keep the water flowing. They without doubt need to keep all the components of the water supply mechanism up to date so that the water supply would not be disrupted or stopped.