Melamchi drinking water supply project, will it sustain?

Kathmandu, the largest urban hub of Nepal, has experienced acute shortages of drinking water since the urbanization sprawl. The main source of drinking water in most of the households has always been water pumped from underground sources. But, given the proliferation of settlers in the valley throughout the decades, the groundwater system has subsequently dried up. The city suffers from inadequacy of clean drinking water as most of the areas do not have regular water supply for a very long time. This has generated an interest towards the alternative source of water supply. 

As such, It has been a compulsion for the people to rely on tanker water and buy plastic water jars to suffice household demand of water by paying a premium price for water in comparison to subscribing to tap water services. But this has not been enough as it has not been able to meet the demand for drinking water. So, in order to address the issue, the government had initiated the Melamchi water project a couple decades ago. The project expects to supply 170 million liters of water to Kathmandu consistently. This project was intended to be finished in 2007 but could not meet the deadline as expected. Regardless, after numerous long stretches of rehashed delay, the Melamchi water is finally ready to be distributed among the denizens of Kathmandu. But unfortunately, it is as sketchy as it keeps on enduring one malfunctions after another.

The preliminary test that was done in July 2020 was unsuccessful. In the meantime, the second period of the task has begun, and the water was distributed in various places of Kathmandu. This was done to test the distribution pipelines  stretching to residents of Kathmandu. However, it turned out into an infrastructure horror when the pipelines couldn’t support the pressing factor of current water supply and began leaking in multiple points. The main error was that the old pipelines were not supplanted trusting that it is sufficient to deal with the forecasted pressing factor of the water. Specifically, the leakages were seen in 300 places, and it seriously raises the question of where the project is headed to? Undoubtedly, a significant amount of investment was made in this project but the supposed distribution failure raises the justifiability of the investment made. In short, the Melamchi water project has remained a disappointment regardless of it being a highly awaited project overshooting the project deadline by multiple folds. 

It is publicly known that the Melamchi project has always been that infrastructure card to secure vote banks from Kathmandu denizens for politicians during the subsequent elections. However, the political pledges though delivered were good as empty promises as the project has met with technical failures already in its very initial phase. Though the project has claimed to be almost completed, the constant malfunctions has shown how unplanned it is in itself. And, this is doubtlessly an inquiry to the government on how it considers to be a fruitful one and where has every one of the huge talks gone? The project has not been able to run successfully in every one of the stages. The big question here is will the Melamchi project be as successful as it is thought to be? The Melamchi project can be a lesson to the government on the consequences that can arise in the projects that have not been planned properly. 

Moon Shrestha

Moon Shrestha is a research intern at Samriddhi Foundation. She is a fresh graduate of Social Science from National College.

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