Melamchi water supply likely to be halted soon

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By A Staff Reporter,Kathmandu, June 14: Water supply to the Kathmandu Valley from the Melamchi Drinking Water Project will stop soon. However, the Melamchi Water Supply Development Committee has not fixed the date to halt the supply. 

An official at the Melamchi Water Supply Development Committee told The Rising Nepal that the water supply was supposed to stop from Friday or Saturday, as the monsoon is spreading throughout the country soon. 

However, the decision to stop the supply will be made on Friday after inspecting the project site, said Rajendra Prasad Panta, spokesperson for the Committee.

Rumours have already been rife that the residents of Kathmandu will not be able to drink Melamchi water this rainy season as in the past year. This has caused concern among the city dwellers, as water sources have dried up due to the prolonged drought.

Panta said that the water supply from the Melamchi drinking water project would be halted from Friday or Saturday. The water supply will be halted until the end of the monsoon season, he added. 

“Melamchi Drinking Water Project is supplying  170 million litres of water every day to the valley people, but the supply will be stopped due to the fear of debris flow in the tunnel. 

The headworks of the water supply were destroyed by a flood in 2021. The water supply was halted following floods and landslides in the Melamchi River in mid-June and mid-July 2021, which caused significant damage to the headworks areas of the project. As a result, Melamchi’s water is currently available only for a few months of the dry season.

Panta said that due to the risk of landslides and floods, a regular supply of drinking water cannot be ensured during the rainy season. “While other structures remain intact, the destruction of the headworks prevents year-round water flow. Foul water and debris could enter the 25.9 km long tunnel, potentially blocking it. If the tunnel gets blocked, it will be challenging to clean it,” he said.

After the destruction of headworks, the water flow was halted on June 1, 2022, and again on June 22, 2023, and this year too water supply will be stopped once more as soon as the rainy season starts, he added.

“If we close the tunnel to prevent debris from entering it, there is a possibility of resuming the water supply soon after the monsoon season ends, with no remaining hassles for cleaning, as other infrastructures at the project site are intact,” Panta said.

“Earlier, we were waiting for the cabinet's decision to relocate the headworks. With the cabinet decision on June 6, an official process to relocate it has begun. We are now in the paperwork process, and soon we will hire a consultant by calling for an expression of interest (EOI). After that, we will call a tender to for the construction of the headworks,” he added.

According to the initial study, the headworks will be shifted one kilometre upstream from the current site at Susung of Helambu. Another tunnel must be constructed to connect to the main tunnel for the water supply.

According to Panta, a new loan contract with the Asian Development Bank is necessary. The initial estimate for the construction of headworks, tunnel, road connection, and other physical developments is Rs. 4 billion, he added.

The ADB submitted the initial study report for shifting the head works in August 2022. 

The conceptual design has already been conducted, but the only part that is lacking is the detailed design, as we are awaiting the government’s decision to allow the detailed study and other procedures.

According to Panta, it will take time for the detailed study, as constructing head works should now be underground to protect from any damage. 

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