Bheri-Babai tunnel: Project completes 70 percent works

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    Oct 14, 2018-

    The Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project has finished digging more than 70 percent of the 12-km tunnel using a tunnel boring machine (TBM) in 10 months since its construction began. The irrigation cum hydropower project, which is using the TBM to dig a tunnel for the first time in the country, has dug 8.5km so far.

    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.

    As the project is about to complete digging the tunnel, the office is preparing to call a global tender to appoint a contractor to build the hydropower component of the multipurpose project. “We have finalised the design of the project and have forwarded it to the Department of Irrigation for approval. Once the department approves the design, we will start the procurement process,” said Sanjib Baral, government appointed project chief of Bheri Babai. “Our plan is to call the tender within a month.”

    As Bheri Babai is a government-owned project being implemented by the Department of Irrigation, it doesn’t have to get a generation licence from the Department of Electricity Development, and it can start construction of the project immediately.

    Bheri Babai is 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 throughout year in Banke and Bardia districts and generate 48 MW of electricity.

    Bheri Babai 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