The long wait of Nepalis in the capital Kathmandu to get drinking water from the Melamchi river has become a reality after Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari inaugurated the country’s largest water supply project on Friday.
President Bhandari inaugurated the distribution of water by opening a tap in Kathmandu. After the Chinese contractor Sinohydro Corporation Limited completed digging the tunnel of the project, water was released into the tunnel to test if there is any leakage, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The Melamchi project aims to supply 170 million liters of fresh water per day, largely relieving the water shortage in the valley, Nepali officials said.
During the inauguration ceremony, Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli congratulated the residents of Kathmandu for receiving water after a prolonged wait. “It is one of recent success stories in our development efforts,” he said.
According to Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited, water received from the Melamchi project has been distributed to 80,000 taps in Kathmandu Valley, at a time when local residents face acute shortage in the dry season.
“People in Kathmandu Valley will feel huge relief in the dry season this year with supply of water from the Melamchi Project,” said Milan Kumar Shakya, CEO of KUKL.
According to him, there has been supply of only 80 million liters per day from the existing sources of water in Kathmandu Valley. “We will also soon get supply of additional water from the Melamchi project and water will be supplied to all the households of the capital city gradually,” said Shakya.
According to KUKL, the actual demand for water in Kathmandu Valley is 430 million litres per day if water is supplied 24 hours a day. “But water to be available from the Melamchi project along with existing sources will be enough for all households to meet their minimum water needs,” said Shakya.
The Nepali government also plans to launch a second phase of the Melamchi project adding an additional 170 million liters of water per day. The Prime Minister has instructed government officials to complete the project in three years.
The drinking water project was launched in 2000, but was delayed due to a number of factors including the devastating earthquake in 2015.
In September 2019, Sinohydro was awarded the contracts for completing the remaining works of both tunnel digging and the headworks. After the Chinese contractor completed the tunnel digging work, the water was diverted to it by erecting a temporary dam on the Melamchi river which lies in the north of Kathmandu in the neighbouring Sindhupalchowk district.