KATHMANDU: About 51 billion rupees investment in the Melamchi Drinking Water Project is at risk due to floods and landslides in the Melamchi river basin. The upper part of the headworks of the Ambathan-based project has been damaged due to continuous floods and landslides.
The weak structure of the Melamchi reservoir area continues to crumble. Although the exact details of the damage in the reservoir area have not been released, there are fears that the Melamchi water source will dry up when the reservoir area breaks down.
The government has already spent about Rs 51 billion on the first and second phases of the Melamchi project in partnership with the Asian Development Bank. Of that, Rs 30 billion has been spent on construction of headworks and tunnels of the project. Besides that Rs 21 billion has been spent on structures to supply the drinking water to the houses of Kathmandu Valley, said Kamal Raj Shrestha, Director of the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL) Project Implementation Directorate.
Rajendra Prasad Pant, senior divisional engineer of the Melamchi Drinking Water Development Committee, said that the unimaginable floods and landslides in the Melamchi River have not stopped raising concerns that it will put such a huge investment at risk. "The state has spent a lot of time and resources for the Melamchi drinking water project," he said. “It is difficult to estimate the damage caused to the Melamchi project unless a detailed study is conducted on the impact of the floods and landslides.”
Pant, who is also the spokesperson of the committee, says that there has been no major damage to the infrastructure including the main headworks of the project so far. "Initially, there seems to be a lot of damage to the reservoir area and access road of the Melamchi project," he said. “It is hard to get the estimation unless a detailed study is carried out. However, we will bring water from Melamchi even after rebuilding the structures damaged by the floods and landslides.”
Director Shrestha also said that Melamchi water would not reach Kathmandu anytime soon. "The damage to the reservoir area has directly affected the distribution of Melamchi water in the valley," he said. “It might take some time but not all the infrastructures are damaged. As it is a project of national pride, the government will move ahead with the construction work with priority.”