Likhu-2 tunnel experiences another leakage, prompting concerns

KATHMANDU: Water has once again started leaking from the tunnel of the Likhu-2 hydropower project in Ramechhap, causing alarm.

The leakage had previously resulted in the flooding of settlements below the tunnel, leading to the suspension of water flow through the tunnel about a month and a half ago.

However, despite the temporary halt, the leakage resurfaced approximately one month after the water flow was stopped. Local resident Rajendra Ghimire reported that the leaking water had resumed recently, similar to the previous incident.

During the testing phase of the under-construction 55 MW Likhu-2 hydropower project, owned by the Dugad Group, the water source burst in the Pekarnas settlement of Umakund-2 Gumdel in Ramechhap.

As a result, 42 families from Pekarnas had to evacuate their village and relocate to a safer area. Among them, 16 families facing high risks are receiving food assistance from the project.

Prior to the construction of the hydroelectric tunnel, there was no water issue in Pekarnas. However, after diverting water to the tunnel in the settlement, which was already struggling with drinking water problems, the locals had been demanding relocation to a safer place.

The project, however, dismissed their concerns, stating that the tunnel was not leaking but rather the main water supply had broken.

Following the evacuation of the locals, a team led by Chief District Officer Anita Niraula conducted a follow-up assessment. The team sent a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs, urging immediate action to stop the water flow through the tunnel due to the potential for a disaster.

The Department of Electricity Development, acting upon the House’s instructions, directed the project to suspend water supply to the tunnel.

Despite these instructions, the project resumed water flow into the Likhu tunnel a week ago, as part of its testing activities in the production facility. In response to the water leakage in the affected area, the Power Development Department dispatched a team of experts to conduct a study.

The team has submitted a report to the department and the Ministry of Energy during the first week of June. However, Chief District Officer Niraula stated that the report has not been made public.

Fiscal Nepal |
Sunday July 16, 2023, 11:00:35 AM |

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