Yesterday and Today’s Melamchi, what can we learn from Nepal’s Dam Brust?

    Melamchi Before and after

    A small and beautiful town in Nepal where a major flash flood triggered by heavy rains has devastated the entire town of Melamchi in Nepal under Sindupalchok District.

    Melamchi is a municipality town in Nepal that is bigger than Sikkim’s Rangpo Bazar with a population of 50,000. In mid-Melamchi, there’s a small river was flowing in daily sources same as the comparing to river Teesta flowing in Sikkim’s Singtam.

    In 2000 Nepal’s Govt bidding a project cost of around $464 Million to construct Melamachi Water supply by constructing a large dam on the upper side of Melamchi. It’s a long-term alternative to ease the chronic water shortage situation within the Kathmandu Valley. The Project is designed to divert about 170 MLD of fresh water to Kathmandu Valley from the Melamchi River in Sindhupalchowk district.

    By constructing a 26KM tunnel the project was designed to divert 170 million liters of freshwater daily from the Melamchi River in the Sindhupalchok district to the Kathmandu valley.

    In 2007 August, the MoPIT dropped the contract awarded to Severn Trent International because the company was penalized in the UK for poor performance and lack of transparency which can be fatal in the future.

    In 2009, after the long wait for the project to restructure, The project was awarded to the Chinese Railway Bureau Group. In July 2009, local groups padlocked the MWSP’s office. It was unlocked in January again 2010 and In August, the construction of the tunnel was initiated and started working.

    When earthquakes hit Nepal In 2015 April, Sindupalchok district is said to be the epic center and the Sindhupalchok district was one of the most affected places due to the dam, tunnel, and the massive project was going on there. This delayed the completion of the project further away.

    After a long battle of construction, funding, local issue, payment finally after 23 years in 2021 project was completed and on On February 22, wintertime water was released in the main tunnel (Helambu rural municipality-1, Sindhupalchok).

    On 15th June 2021 coming to monsoon havoc flood, eight trout farms, a bridge in Nakote, farmlands at Timbu, Chanaute Bazaar, Amahyalmo Buspark, and City Park have been swept away by floods.

    It’s not because of rain that caused the flood but the dam is, Normally, when landslides block the river flow, water comes down with a heavy force. But in the case of Melamchi, it seems there must have been some temporary dams that blocked rainwater for some time before it got released. The pattern seems to be repeating as the water level has been fluctuating in the Melamchi river

    A landslide blocked the flow of Melamchi river and Indravati river and destroyed a dam causing heavy swelling of the river which swept away a major portion of Melamchi town. Numerous people have been reported missing. Till now 8 bodies have been fished out. The town remains submerged in slush and water, with three-storied buildings being submerged in the muddy waters.
    This is perhaps one of the greatest natural calamities of the year.

    Dam burst can also be the biggest risk like If the same thing happens in Dikchu Dam entire Sigtam, Majhitar, and Rangpo will be in bigger risk.

    We must stop making more Dam in Sikkim and giving priorities to the environment. LANCO project has dug more useless holes in Sikkim which can be bigger trouble in the future.


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