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India to build new dam in Afghanistan

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KABUL: India on Tuesday unveiled new development initiatives for Afghanistan, including a dam to supply water to Kabul and 150 community projects worth $80 million, even as it called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in the country.

Against the backdrop of mounting global concern over increased attacks by the Taliban even as it engages the Afghan government in talks, Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar told a virtual international pledging conference that India is committed to a long-term role for the development of Afghanistan.

India’s development portfolio of more than $3 billion is aimed at building the capabilities of the Afghan people and institutions with the aim of improving governance, he said. “There is no part of Afghanistan today untouched by our 400-plus projects spread across all the 34 provinces of Afghanistan,” he added.

Jaishankar announced an agreement with Afghanistan to build Shahtoot Dam in the Kabul river basin to provide drinking water to two million residents of Kabul city. This will be built on the 202-km Pul-e-Khumri electricity transmission line built in 2009 to provide power to the city.

India will also launch some 150 projects worth $80 million as part of the fourth phase of its high impact community development projects initiative, he said. This initiative is focused on smaller projects that can be completed speedily to benefit people in villages and districts.

At the same time, Jaishankar expressed concern at the recent spike in violence in Afghanistan. “Increasing level of violence in Afghanistan naturally remains a matter of grave concern. While we support all efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan, India calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. We also believe the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled,” he said.

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