By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Salma [newly renamed as Afghan-India friendship] dam, the biggest project funded by Indian government in western Herat province.
Initial and basic works of the dam developed during the then-president Hamid Karzai’s tenure, who attracted New Delhi’s attention to the project. The dam is planned to generate 42 megawatts of electricity, which is considered to play key role in the home-made power project.
The Karzai-initiative dam will also irrigate around 80,000 hectares of farmlands in four districts along its route.
The project budget was some $ 300 million, paid by the Indian government as part of its donation in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Currently Herat’s electricity is imported from Iran and Turkmenistan.
“By inauguration of Salma dam today, Afghan people reached their long dream,” president Ghani said.
He called the dam as sign of India’s durable cooperation with Afghanistan, who have had long friendly relationships.
“This project is a relation between two nations, which brings light to Afghan houses and irrigate dry lands in Herat province.”
Ghani called terrorism a challenge in the region that requires of regional countries to have single definition from terrorism and fight from united address.
“Some figures and people only damage, but we struggle to rebuild and reconstruct,” the president added.
India built the new building for the Afghan parliament. It built the Delaram-Zaranj road. New Delhi has so far provided 17,000 scholarships for Afghan students.
“Privileged to see again the high tide of friendship in this vast ocean of love for India and this is yet another giant step in Afghanistan’s march to progress,” said Indian Prime Minister Naredra Modi.
He called the dam inauguration as a historic moment of emotion and pride in the relations between Afghanistan and India.
“Today, we are not just launching a project that will irrigate lands and light up homes, we are reviving a region, restoring hope, renewing life and redefining Afghanistan’s future. The dam is a generator not just of electricity but also of optimism and belief in the future of Afghanistan,” he added.
He said that the project would not just irrigate the fields of 640 villages in Chesht, Obe, Pashtun-Zarghun, Karrokh, Gozara, Enjil, Zendajan, Kohsan and Ghoryan districts. It would also bring light to over 250,000 homes in the area.
“It was a tribute to the epic struggle of the Afghan people to shape their future by vote and debate, not gun and violence,” Modi stated. “On this summer day in Herat, we come together to honor and celebrate Afghan determination to build a future of prosperity. Afghans and Indians dreamt of this project in the 1970s.”
Indian premier called the war not of Afghan making, saying it was one that stole the future of an entire generation of Afghans and when a new dawn broke over Afghanistan in 2001, the project was resumed.
“On international platforms and in regional forums, we will speak in one voice for the Afghan right to a peaceful, prosperous, united, inclusive and democratic nation.”
“This dam has not been built by bricks and mortar, but by the faith of our friendship. And, at this moment of pride, we also stand in grief and gratitude for lives sacrificed so that Afghan people will have a future they so richly deserve and so deeply desire,” he asserted.
Pointing to Chabahar port, Indian Premier said that India’s investment there would give Afghanistan a new route to the world and a new path to prosperity.
“In order to implement that vision, just last month, President Ghani joined President Rouhani of Iran and me in witnessing the signing of the Chahbahar Trade and Transit Agreement between Afghanistan, Iran and India.”
He emphasized that Afghanistan must live and prosper as one.
“Divisions of Afghan people will only help those who seek to dominate the nation from outside. As we work together, we draw strength and confidence from your deep commitment to protect our partnership from the designs of others,” Modi said.
Survey of the dam was carried out in the government of the late president Dawood, and Hamid Karzai took special interest in construction of several dams to reduce dependence of the country on imported electricity and give new life to the national economy.
Karzai ordered relevant authorities in 2005 to start work on the dam.