Aug 26, 2018-The Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project, in past nine months, has finished digging almost 60 percent of the 12-km tunnel using a tunnel boring machine (TBM). The irrigation cum hydropower project is using the machine to dig a tunnel for the first time in the country.
According to the project office, they have completed 7.1 km of the tunnel and have safely passed the weak zone of the tunnel located between 5 to 6 km range which could have disturbed the excavation works.
“With the TBM safely clearing the danger zone as pointed out by the detailed design, the rest of the tunnel boring process is expected to go on smoothly without major glitches,” said Siva Kumar Basnet, former project chief of the Behri Babai, who was transferred to Ministry of Energy Water Resource and Irrigation a couple of days ago completing his tenure at the project office.
The 12-km tunnel is one of the key components of the irrigation cum hydropower project and it will be used to divert water from the Bheri River to the Babai River to irrigate farmland and generate electricity.
Currently, the project office is busy finalising the detailed designs of the powerhouse and headwork, the hydropower components of project. Once the project finalises the designs, it will initiate global tender to appoint a contractor to construct the hydropower plant. “The new project chief who is yet to take charge of the project will be able to provide the exact timeline to call the tender,” said Basnet.
While China Overseas Engineering Group has been appointed as the contractor to work on the irrigation component of the project, a separate contractor will be hired for the construction of the hydropower component.
Bheri Babai is a national pride project located in Bheri-Ganga Municipality in Surkhet district in western Nepal. It will have a 15-metre-high dam and divert 40 cubic metres of water per second from the Bheri River to the Babai River. The water will be used to irrigate 51,000 hectares of land round the year in Banke and Bardia districts. The project will also generate 48 MW of electricity.
The irrigation-cum-hydroelectric project is one of the strategic projects of the country, as it is expected to ease the food crisis in the mid-western region by increasing agricultural yield.
The government had invited bids for the construction of the project in July 2012, but lack of resources and delays in the appointment of a contractor prevented the four-year project from getting off the ground. The construction of the project was finally inaugurated in April 2015 by the then prime minister, the late Sushil Koirala.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs16 billion. It is expected to make an indirect financial contribution of Rs3.1 billion to the state, and a direct revenue contribution of Rs2.1 billion through electricity sales.
Source: The Kathmandu Post