Effectively utilizing local water resources has long been a dream for Nepalese and now Chinese construction workers are helping them realize it by building a spectacular hydraulic engineering project.
The Babai River located in the Bardiyā, Surkhet, is one of Nepal’s most important water resources, and hailed as “the river of life” by locals. However, the seasonal changes in stream discharge are a headache for local residents: draughts in dry seasons and floods in rainy seasons.
Bheri River is another river in the region with 10 times the flow of the Babai. Diverting water from Bheri to Babai in dry seasons has always been a dream for local residents.
According to an official with Nepal’s Ministry of Irrigation, the country is currently trying to solve the issue with an inter-basin water transfer project called the Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project.
The project, contracted by China Overseas Engineering Group (COVEC), started in June 2015, with a total value of $107 million and a construction period of 58 months.
The official said that the project is designed to divert the water through a 12.2-kilometer tunnel at a velocity of 40 cubic meters per second. The diverted water will be used to irrigate about 51,000 hectares of farmland.
Thanks to the 152-meter difference in water levels between the two rivers, a 48 MW hydraulic power plant will also be constructed.
For the first time in Nepal’s history, a tunnel boring machine is being used to excavate the tunnel through fragile rocks. Normally, it would take three months to drill 500 meters, but the Chinese company shortened the period by one month.
The official from Irrigation Ministry told People’s Daily that such engineering equipment would enjoy a broad application in mountainous countries like Nepal.
The project director of the Nepalese side, surnamed Cerf, said that Nepal, as an agricultural country, is highly dependent on water resources.
The country will enjoy an extra income of $29 million from irrigation and $42 million from power generation annually upon the completion of the project, he added.