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Sikta irrigation project: Damaged canal section repaired

Kathmandu, September 29, 2016: Kalika Construction, the contractor of the Sikta Irrigation Project, has said it has repaired a section of the canal that was damaged during a test on June 17.

During the test conducted after the completion of construction work under the second package (17.7km to 35km section) of the 45km main canal, a 15m section near Jamune river had collapsed.

“The repair has been completed and it’s ready for the test. The test will be conducted whenever the Department of Irrigation decides,” said Kalika Construction Director Padam Gurung.

Sikta is one of the national pride projects being constructed with domestic resources. It has been under construction for the past 12 years. The project aims to irrigate 80 percent of arable land in Banke. Currently, only 30 percent of the 35,970 hectares of arable land has irrigation facilities in the district.

Following the collapse of the canal section, questions were raised over the quality of construction. However, both the contractor and the Irrigation Ministry officials claimed the damage was not big. In the first round, 10 cumex of water was released and in the second round, 25 cumex of water was released. The main canal can sustain a maximum of 50 cumex of water, according to the Irrigation Ministry.

After the incident, a study team was formed under Sagar Kumar Rai, joint secretary of the ministry, to study the scale of damage and quality of construction. According to Rai, a small part under the bridge linking a village was damaged because of heavy movement of overloaded vehicles carrying construction materials for the project.

“The seal and bitumen used to keep the structure intact started to loosen due to the consistent movement overloaded vehicles and when the 10 cumex of water was released in the first round, it started to leak from the weakened structure,” said Rai. “When more water was released in the second round, the structure was damaged.”

After the incident, the contractor repaired the damage with its own resources. This package would have been handed over to the government much earlier, had the part of the canal not been damaged, according to the officials.

But the necessity repair and additional test forced the government to extend the project’s “Defect Liability Period” until January 2017. “It means, the contractor will be responsible for any damage caused to the section of canal until that period,” said Rai.

The first package (up to 17.7km) has already been handed over to the government. The contractor has planned to hand over the second package to the government within the period once the tests are conducted. The national pride project is expected to be completed by the fiscal year 2019-20. The government has estimated the total cost of the project at Rs25.02 billion.