Dr. Sanjeev Bickram Rana, CEO, Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board
The damage caused by the flood and landslide at Ambathan area of Sindhupalchowk district, where Melamchi Water Supply Project is located, is so severe that it will take some 5-6 year to completely reconstruct the project and the cost of reconstruction is estimated to be Rs. 2 billion. However, works are being carried out with a view for partial resumption of the water supply from the project by the month of Chaitra, according to Dr. Sanjeev Bickram Rana, CEO of Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board.
The project had started distributing around 170 million litres of water to Kathmandu valley after the completion of the project in mid-Chaitra. However, devastation occurred in Sindhupalchowk district after distributing water for two and a half month, said Rana. Flood and landslide triggered by heavy rain hit Sindhupalchowk towards the end of Jestha causing heavy damage to the water supply project. The intake of the Melamchi project was completely damaged and the access road to Melamchi was also badly damaged in the incident. Seven people, three Indians, three Chinese and one Nepali, working in the site died as they were swept away by the flood. The flood in the river joining Melamchi river, occurred near Bhimathan area, where a huge flat land filled with sand is located. There were cracks at several places in the flat land situated near the Melamchi river due to the flood and landslide supply prior to the completion of the Melamchi project, according to Rana.
Luckily, the main gate of the Melamchi tunnel was closed for carrying out regular inspection works just 24 hours before the flood occurred, which had protected the tunnel from being damaged, he recalls.
The flood not only damaged the access road to the project but also swept away a bridge on the Melamchi project site. Therefore, the road and the bridge have to be reconstructed before restoring the damaged intake of the project.
If everything goes as per plan, the partial supply of drinking water from Melamchi project could be temporarily resumed, he said. For that purpose, we need to have a coordination among different stakeholders including Nepal Army, Department of Road and Melamchi water project. The project was constructed at the cost of around Rs. 50 billion with two and a half decade of works. For permanent solution of the damaged project we need some 5-6 years’ time, he added.
The impacts of climate change and the great earthquake of 2015 have also contributed a lot in the devastation besides the flooded river, Rana pointed out. There might have bursting of glacial lakes in the upper side of the project, which is yet to be studied, he added. “We need to carry out geological survey of the entire area to come to a conclusion.”