The Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project—which is using a tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the time in Nepal—has completed digging 20 percent of the 12-km long tunnel within three and half months.
The project office said the TBM had completed digging a 2.3km tunnel by Thursday and that the operation was going on smoothly without a major glitch. The TBM was installed at the project site in November.
If the tunnel boring machine maintains its current momentum, the tunnel will be completed well before the completion deadline of March 2020.
“Currently, the TBM is digging 15 to 25 metre of tunnel daily,” said Shiva Kumar Basnet, the government appointed project chief of the multipurpose project. “Although it will be too early to announce the completion date of the tunnel, we are hopeful that it will be completed within one and half years.”
The TBM has a 5-metre diameter and is 250 metre long. It is being used to dig the tunnel through which water from the Bheri River will be diverted to the Babai River to irrigate farmland and generate electricity.
China Overseas Engineering Group, the government appointed contractor for the construction of the project is deploying workforce of around 80 Chinese and 600 Nepali who are working daily to operate the machine.
The Bheri Babai is a national pride project located at Bheri-Ganga Municipality in Surkhet district in western Nepal. It will have a 15-metre-high dam and divert 40 cubic metre 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 project, according to Basnet, is also reviewing the design of the powerhouse and head-work of hydroelectric project. “We will soon complete reviewing the design and approve it before calling the global tender to appoint contractor,” said Basnet. “Our plan is to start the construction of hydropower project once we complete digging half of the tunnel.”
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 sales of electricity.
Source :The Kathmandu Post