Melamchi water supply to resume soon

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Kathmandu, Nov. 30: The long-awaited supply of water from Melamchi is set to begin very soon, following the clearance of debris that has accumulated inside the water supply headworks.

The access road to the Melamchi headworks will be completed within a few days, then the contractor will proceed to the site to clear the debris piled up due to the monsoon rains this season, said Padam Kunwar, Senior Division Engineer. 

The exact date for the resumption of supply cannot be provided, but the valley residents will receive water at the earliest, he added.

Speaking with The Rising Nepal, Kunwar mentioned that the debris flow during this monsoon season has exceeded that of the previous year, resulting in a longer duration for the removal of debris from the headworks. 

“The contract was awarded to Sino Hydro for construction and the debris removal was also its responsibility. With insurance in place, we are awaiting coverage for the debris removal, so it is taking a longer time. As a government entity, we aim to minimise additional investment towards this end,” Kunwar stated.

In the previous year, water from Melamchi flowed through the distribution pipes on December 9. But this monsoon season, debris has accumulated once again. However, this time, denizens will have to wait for a few more days before they can draw water from their taps, he added. 

The devastating floods on June 15 and July 31, 2021, swept away Melamchi water project built over almost two decades to quench the thirst of the people in Kathmandu Valley. The flood also swept away land, houses, schools, and industries in Melamchi Municipality, Helambu Rural Municipality, Panchpokhari Thangpal Rural Municipality, and Indrawati Rural Municipality.

According to Kunwar, “We are currently supplying water through an alternative diversion system since the main headworks were buried by the 2021 floods. The alternative system was constructed to ensure regular water supply, but it has once again been blocked by heavy rainfall during this monsoon season.”

“People often inquire about relocating the main headworks to a higher location, but we have not yet decided on the specific site for relocation. This is a complex process and needs approval from the Cabinet. It is better not to discuss the relocation of the headworks until a decision is made,” Kunwar stated.

The floods wreaked havoc on roads, bridges, trout farms, livestock, and households, compelling people to seek refuge in schools and public places. The lasting consequence of this tragic event is that survivors are still unable to return to their former land, as everything has been washed away.

Initiated in 1998 by the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board, the project was meant to be completed by 2006. Multiple deadline extensions followed, and it remains incomplete even today due to the devastating flash flood in the Melamchi River in 2021, burying the under-construction headworks under over 12 metres of debris. 

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