Kathmandu, December 10, 2016:Â As the first phase of the Melamchi Drinking Water Project moves closer to becoming a reality, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday announced it was stepping up part two of the scheme that will ensure 24/7 water supply in parched Kathmandu.
The project has hired consultants to prepare a design of the $100-million second phase, the ADB said. The four-year project envisages extending a 12-km tunnel to the Yangri and Larke rivers, which lie in the upstream region of the Melamchi.
â€œThe second phase of the project will begin in 2019, and it will supply three times more water than the first phase,â€ said ADB Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama, addressing a press meet here on Thursday.
The ADB-funded Melamchi project, one of the most highly touted infrastructure projects in the country, is expected to pump 170 million litres of water daily from the Melamchi River in Sindhupalchok to the Kathmandu Valley by October 2017.
The ADB said that the valley will receive 510 million litres of water daily after the construction of the second phase is completed.
The project has envisaged adopting a mechanism for automated distribution and billing system or smart meter infrastructure and even a mobile paying system.Â However, the ADB has expressed doubts over the capacity of Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL) to make things happen.
â€œKUKL, the sole distributor of water in the valley, needs to hire more technical staff to ensure a proper management and distribution system,â€ said Yokoyama. He added that the KUKL board cannot keep functioning in the way it has been doing for the past several years.
â€œThe board needs to be more efficient to make timely decisions,â€ he said. Currently, one of the major problems facing the company is delays in decision making by the board, which is preventing the management from executing various plans.
The Melamchi project was envisioned in the late 1990s. The first agreement for its construction was signed in 2003 with funding from several donors and developmental partners. The project was originally slated to be completed by 2007.
Valley residents have pinned their hopes on Melamchi for salvation from perpetual water shortages. The average daily requirement of water in the Valley is about 400 million litres. However, KUKL supplies only around 140 million litres daily during the rainy season; and in the winter, this drops to 80 million litres. Moreover, 36 percent of the water is lost due to leakage on mains.