The site office of the Melamchi Water Supply Project, which has remained padlocked for the last seven months, has opened on 26 January 2010. Locals in the project-affected area had padlocked the office since 24 July 2009.
“Locals agreed to unlock the office when negotiation was made to address their demands within a year,” said Bharat KC, Deputy Executive Director of Melamchi Water Supply Project. Chairperson of Hyolmo Sindhu Melamchi Valley Social Upliftment Programme Implementation Committee (HSMVSUPIC) Chandra Bahadur Thapa warned of padlocking the site office of the project again if their demands were not addressed within the stipulated time.
The protests have delayed the construction of tunnel works of the Melamchi Water Supply Project, which was due to start in August 2009 when Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal laid the foundation stone.
As a result of the delay, the China Railway 15 Bureau Corporation and China CMIIC Corporation workers, who were contracted to construct the tunnel, have left the site. The tunnel was due for completion by December 2013.
The tunnel construction is an important work, which constitutes 27 percent of the total work.
Although construction was to start in 2002, it was postponed for five years after the donors World Bank, Norway and Sweden backtracked from the project and the works restarted with Asian Development Bank cooperation on condition to give the valley drinking water supply to the private sector.
The valley drinking water was given to Severn Trent, a British company as per the ADB condition.
When Maoists came to government, Hisila Yami who was the then minister for physical planning and works canceled the agreement with the Severn Trent and the tunnel works were delayed for another two years.
The Melamchi project was started in 1998 with a view of supplying clean drinking water to increasing population of Kathmandu valley.
Admitting that the tunnel works were delayed, Executive Director Gajendra Kumar Thakur said the delay in construction was because of lengthy process of acquiring license for the explosives needed, as it needs 1,100 tonnes of explosives. Other explosives and materials are being brought from Lhasa and Hyderabad of India.
After this arrives, the tunnel works will start from eight places simultaneously, he said.
The cost of the tunnel is Rs. 4 billion and 288.8 million.
Under the project, 170 million liters of water will be collected daily in the reservoir to be built at Mahankal of Sundarijal.
The first phase total cost is 317.3 million US dollars.
The second phase will add water from Yangri and Larke Rivers and reach 350 million liters.
Of the total cost, 249.4 million will be spent in various infrastructure in Melamchi valley and in social programmes. Rs 67.9 million dollars have been allocated for drinking water alone.