Work on Salma dam to continue: India
HERAT CITY: An Indian diplomat on Monday reaffirmed New Delhi’s commitment to continuing work on the Salma dam -- one of the mega friendship projects India is implementing in western Herat province.
An Indian newspaper reported on July 14 that the project, which was originally scheduled to be completed in 2010, had been in serious trouble due to procrastination on the part of New Delhi.
With the timeline pushed back by two years, the area around the site had begun witnessing frequent clashes between the project security detail and Afghan insurgents, The Hindu said.
A security meeting was recently informed that construction activity was on the verge of stoppage because Afghan contractors had lost faith in the revival of the dam.
As a result, subcontractors are reportedly refusing to supply material on credit for the dam, which will irrigate 75,000 hectares of land and generate 42 MW of power.
But India’s acting Consul-General Rajesh Lal told Pajhwok Afghan News during an exclusive interview work on the dam had been delayed because the extra funds were yet to be approved.
The project cost has escalated from $85 million to over Rs 200 million. Climatic conditions, logistic and security problems were another principal reason for the delay, Lal explained.
Some of the constructed portions were washed away by floods in the early years of the project. The distance between India and the site, lack of access to the requisite materials and a staff shortage also contributed to the problem, he continued.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence was also trying to scuttle the project, the paper quoted an unnamed source as saying. “Following intelligence inputs, the Indian consulate in Herat fears the dam, a symbol of benign Indian aid, is also in the cross-sights of the ISI Directorate.”
Four Indian companies and 700 workers, including 250 Indians, are working on the project in the Chest Sharif district. The Hindu quoted the consulate as saying the Afghan government had refused to provide air travel facilities for Indian employees.
Insisting that none of the consulate officials had spoken the Hindu, Lal said they requested helicopters for the security of Indian employees. He hoped India -- the 5th largest donor to Afghanistan -- would soon approve the extra funds.
Work on the project would be completed in two years, the consul-general said, dismissing the impression that India had security concern about the public welfare scheme.--(PAN)
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