Wrangles over a 28km long tunnel is delaying plans for a $400m water supply scheme in Nepal.

Aid donors are divided over whether to include the tunnel, together with a 25MW hydroelectricity station, as part of the Melamchi water supply project in Kathmandu. The tunnel and power plant is estimated to cost an extra $17m.

A meeting was held in the Philippines capital, Manila, on March 26 to decide the issue, although a final decision is unlikely to be known until this month.

The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) has already agreed to provide $15m towards the cost of the overall project. Nepal is now asking for a further $10m to finance part of the tunnel and power station, a request Sweden has agreed to in principle.

The Nepalese government is also approaching Norway’s aid agency, Norad, to see if it is prepared to provide the remaining $7m. Norad is believed to support the hydro-power element.

The Melamchi water supply scheme is due to be financed by the Asian Development Bank; the World Bank; the Finnish donor agency Finnida; the Nordic Development Fund (NDF); and the Japan Bank of International Co-operation (JIBC), formerly the Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund.

The project is expected to supply 170m litres of drinking water daily to Kathmandu, although there is scope to expand the scheme to draw a further 340m litres/day from the Yangri and Larke rivers.