Flow row

Project spawns local water rights dispute in Nepal

 
By Rajesh Ghimire
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- (Credit: Amit Shanker / CSE)nepal's multimillion-dollar project for supplying drinking water to the parched Kathmandu valley has left residents of Melamchi valley fuming. The reason: water will be diverted from the latter region to benefit the former.

Activists of the Melamchi Local Concern Group (mlcg) have locked horns with the Melamchi Water Supply Project (mwsp) officials. The mlcg members are demanding better water rights and compensation.

mwsp is an inter-basin project that would supply water from the snow-fed Melamchi river in the Kosi basin in Sindupalchowk district. It lies to the northeast of Kathmandu valley, which is located in the Bagmati basin. The plan stipulates that 170 million litres per day (mld) of water be diverted from Melamchi river through a 26-kilometre (km)-long tunnel.

The project is expected to ensure 24-hour water supply to 1.5 million inhabitants of Kathmandu valley. The area has an estimated water demand of 189 mld. While the supply hovers around 132 mld in the rainy season, it plummets to 93 mld during summers.

The project will provide 400 litres of water per second to people living downstream, says Madan Sankar Shrestha, deputy executive director of mwsp. Officials claim that this would be sufficient to fulfil the requirements of farmers in the Melamchi valley. Dronaraj Ghimire, an environmental engineer affiliated with the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists, says that although the supply will meet the current demand in the region, no future irrigation projects will be possible.

However, Ram Bahadur Khadka, a local activist and spokesperson of mlcg, is not convinced. "Unless the quantity of water is increased, 75 families will be displaced from Melamchi valley," he contends. The project also poses a threat to the forests in the region. Local people allege that the Royal Nepal Army, mobilised for the security of the project, cleared forestland in the hills of Melamchi valley.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.