I, a fresher engineer, went to Madhya Marsyangdi Hydropower for the ” Dam and Spillway Maintenance Project” undertaken by Lama-Venus-Himalayan JV. It was evident that I was excited about the project, which was also my first project as a Contactor Engineer.
I learned a lot during the project. I was able to implement some basic knowledge I learned during my Engineering in the field. My learning was even made easier by my seniors and co-mates. Common seriously, do you ever get a project manager who holds your hand and teaches you how it’s done. Probably never. But I had one, Er. Sudharsan Kumar Paudel, well, I call him brother. I was very fortunate to have all of the project members, NEA staff, who helped me grow, and I can’t thank them enough.
Check out the video of works done on the Madhya Marsyangdi Dam and Spillway Maintenance project by (Lama-Venus-Himalayan JV) Venus Construction and Water Proofing Pvt. Ltd.
But, let’s now get to the memorable incidents during the project and some valuable lessons.
Error on counting
We were calculating the quantity of remaining TMT rebars that were required on site. So, along with two other workers, I went to check the stock of rebars on site. I asked them to count the numbers of rebars of 32mm, 25mm, and I counted the no. of 20 mm and 16 mm rebars. We measured and returned, and used this data to bring the Bars. As the project progressed, the no. of xmm (Privacy Issues) dia, which they counted, was sufficiently more than the required quantity. Meaning they had made an error in counting. Hence, we should never trust others on critical issues as engineers and do it by ourselves.
PS – We used the bars on another section requiring less mm dia. bar increasing the C/C spacing.
Error on writing
On Bar Bending Schedule (BBS), I gave the length of 32 mm dia. reinforcement bars to cut. The length I gave was 7.25 m, 8.38 m, 7.05 m, 6.8 m, 10.12 m. After cutting and welded the first three bars, they brought the bars, but that cut piece became too short on the site when they tried the fourth bar. I measured the length once again, and it still was 6.8 m. Then, I measured the bar; it was 6.08 m. As I wrote all numbers in 2 digit decimal and one digit, they read 6.8 as 6.08 m. Hence, a minor error turned out to be costlier as it was a 32 mm dia bar. Thus, even the minors and slightest of mistakes have to be taken care of as an engineer.
PS – The cost piece was used in another location, so there was no loss.
Football on the site beach and Swimming on cold Marsyangdi
To get ourselves entertained, we played football on the sand during our off time. It was so much fun that we planned to play regularly, but we never played it again 🤣. After over half an hour of intense football, we were sweating excessively. So, we went swimming at Gate 2. Ohhh, the water was so freaking cold, but still, we swam on for about 15 mins, which chilled our body.
Bursting of Pipe
It was like a Typical Day in the month of Asar, drizzling from early morning and had no signs of holding. So, even the workers residing in the project camp wanted to go home, citing this break-in work. But, as they went home, the rain started to pour heavy, which led to the bursting of 8 inch Pump pipe.
Apart from me, project manager and project coordinator, there was one pump operator, two supervisors & 1 foreman in Ravi Dai, Keshav Dai, and Mukesh. They tried to fit the clamp being drowned in the cold water of Marsyangdi for about 3 hours, but the pressure of the flow would burst the pipe in minutes. So they tried it again, fitted more clamps with even strong grips, but all was in vain as the pipe went on to burst again in minutes.
It was already dark, and the water level was rising. The risk of overflow and flood was highly likely as everything there was, was sand. We made a dam of sand but unfortunately, that won’t be enough overnight. So our PM asked them to fit a pipe underneath the sand so that the pipe would pass the water to the cofferdam with 2 pumps. They again tried for the third time, still sunk on cold water. They completed at around 1 A.M midnight and seemed to have succeeded. But when they thought they have achieved and yelled “Jay Mata Di.’ The pipe burst again, leaving all of us in disarray.
The pipe fitted underneath the sand helped us overcome a possible disaster. The next morning when workers came and fitted the pipe, it worked, helping us breathe a sigh of relief and overcome a possible mishap.
Table Tennis on site
When we were free, we used to play Table Tennis; though I’m not that too talented, I still stood tall. Mind you; there are some serious players here, PM sir, Ravi Dai, Himal Bro; these all are damn good.
One day Alok sir, head of Small and Middle Sized Hydropower, came as a site visitor. We introduced ourselves and realized that we both were from KEC and both fond of Cricket and TT. So, I decided to play a TT match. First, he played with our PM sir, Sudarshan Paudel, who got narrowly defeated by Alok sir.
Then came me, who was regarded as the top player from our site. We started the game, but I had an abysmal start. I was 1-6 down. What came next was a champion-like comeback 😁. With great effort, I was able to take him to Duce. We had a very close clash that we played for the fourth duce, and on the fifth duce, I finally won with a superb serve and proved why I was the champion of the site 😉. So, a great moment to look back, I guess.
Chillo Abhiyan (चिल्लो अभियान ) on site
It was like a week since we came on to the site, some of our project members decided to organize a program “चिल्लो अभियान.” Here, the motto was to get the beard trimmed of all the project members. Because seeing with the beard and without beard would help recognize each other in any appearance. They collected the Signature. But, I, along with a few, was against the program. As I was just a week old in the project, I couldn’t reject my seniors after they made few requests. Then it was time to laugh, looking at each other, which continued for few days.
Accidents on site
After completing the project, I realized Accidents are part of the project, but we must do whatever it takes to minimize the accidents. We encountered a few serious accidents involving one of our Venus staff, Keshav Dai, from having shoulder dislocation to GI wire penetration on foot to getting a finger sliced.
As an engineer, I learned that we should never compromise on the safety of our workers, not even a tiny bit. We should always consider safety first. Even if workers themselves are against it (like wearing helmets, safety belts). We must be able to convince them politely.
50 m3 concrete casting on a day
On this day, March 7, 2021, we completed 50 m3 of concrete casting. It was already dark when we finished it. We did a lot of work, so we decided to take few drinks, OD, this time. First, We drank with our seniors, and after over an hour, they went to sleep. But, we ( I and Sagun Sir) realized it was Manchester Derby day. So, we decided to watch it drinking. As it was at midnight, I got drunk even before the match began. Finally, the game started and Bruno scored the goal. I tried to celebrate, but I was not even able to stand. Realizing my condition, I somehow went to sleep.
The following day, I heard the Spillway was full of water as the Pump Operator too drank and had slept, letting water onto the Roller Bucket portion of the Spillway. It had drowned few machines, including vibrator and sample cubes (Luckily, I had made more than the required sets but not so lucky in the case of a vibrator).
Coming back to me, I wasn’t able to wake up the next morning. Forcefully I woke up at around 9, realizing the responsibility I had. But I couldn’t even remember how I got to my bed. I checked my shoe if I had shoes on; it wasn’t. I tried to recall how I went to bed, but I wasn’t. Even though I had a severe hangover from last night, I still went to work. Curiosity took over me the whole day; how was I able to get to my bed? In the evening, I checked the CCTV footage, and I was shocked and embarrassed. One of our working members, whom I call Vaii, took me to my room, took off my shoes, and put me on my bed to sleep 🙈.
That day I would have sacrificed a month’s salary for a day’s sleep, but still, I couldn’t cause I had responsibility on my shoulders. So, I learned that for an engineer, it’s crucial to balance duty with entertainment.
Keep your Data and files secured.
I was a little childish and was heavily criticized for not keeping my Files, data, diary, and records safe and secured. Data and files you hold as an Engineer are highly critical so remember to keep files and data safe and secured.
Drinking on site
Alcohol is a synonym for Engineer; it’s simple as that. As an Engineer on-site, you’re highly susceptible to drinking. You work all day and tend to have some fun, and for boys, the fun starts with alcohol 😉.
We, senior members of the project, used to take drinks together just before dinner. But, the real fun was in another kitchen. I was friendly and was one of the likeable guys 😜; hence I was welcomed to share few drinks with the working members of our site. We sang, danced, listened to each other, played TT, Football, and shared many joyful moments, basically all after being drunk 😅.
Among all the statements I listened to, the following was the one I liked the most. It was said by our Phurba Dai, the crane operator.
New year Campfire and Pokhara Ride
Campfire on our site used to be regularly until concrete casting started. As it had been a long time since last we last had a campfire, we decided to celebrate New year with one. We drank, sang, danced, and had lots of laughter and joy welcoming the New Year 2078.
We woke up at around eight and decided to resume our original plan of going to Pokhara. We bathed on cold Marsyangdi and dressed. The problem was we were six but had only two bikes, so I went home along with our supervisor Keshav Dai and took my bike. We started our journey to Pokhara after meeting in Damauli, but the problem was that the clock had already ticked at half-past 1.
So, we had to ride fast, and that’s what we did. We raced to Pokhara in no time. The only thing we would be able to do was Boating on Fewa. So, we took two boats for one and a half hours each and enjoyed ourselves with everything we could do on a boat.
The Journey Back
Then again, we had to ride back 100+ km to Lamjung. As all the project members were together, there was no one to look after the site. It was very tiring as we made a few childish decisions, but more importantly, it was entertaining and full of joy.
(PS – We were racing against each other and undoubtedly overspeeding. Then, our PM said “धेरै स्पीड नहान केटा हो , नयाँ वर्षको दिनमै श्राद्ध पर्यो भने के हुन्छ? And then, we were speeding but were in control of it most of the time, I guess 😅).