Tunnel boring machine to start test digging today


    Oct 30, 2017-The installation of the first ever tunnel boring machine (TBM) brought to Nepal to dig a tunnel for the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project has been completed. Technicians from the US-based manufacturer Robbins finished putting together the machine on Friday.

    The TBM has a 5-metre diameter and is 250 metres long. It will be used to dig a 12-km tunnel through which water from the Bheri River will be diverted to the Babai River to irrigate farmland and generate electricity.

    “The manufacturer installed the machine in one and a half months,” said Min Raj Dhakal, senior divisional engineer of the multipurpose project. “As stated in the contract, the company will now demonstrate the use of the machine by digging a 500-metre tunnel which will also be a test to make sure that it works okay.”

    The team from Robbins will start digging on Monday, and it is likely to complete the stretch within a month, he added. Subsequently, the US company will hand over the TBM to China Overseas Engineering Group, the civil contractor for the project.

    It will take around two to three years to dig the entire tunnel. The Chinese contractor has already installed a 4 MW diesel plant at the project site to generate power to operate the machine.

    The Bheri Babai Multipurpose Diversion Project 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 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.

    Some of the salient features of the project are easy access to road network, fewer environmental hazards, less use of water from the Bheri River and little negative impact in the vicinity of the dam site.

    Also, the project requires only 30 hectares of land to build the dam. 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 moving ahead.

    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 energy sales.

    Source: The Kathmandu Post