KABUL: Afghan National Water Authority has said Taliban have fired dozens of mortars on the Salma Dam, major source of electricity and irrigation in Chesht district of Herat province.
The agency warned of catastrophic fallouts of continued Taliban attacks. “Salma Dam will be destroyed if the militants continue to fire rockets,” it said, adding that some of the rockets had landed near the dam.
It said that a large number of Afghan citizens would suffer losses if the Salma Dam was damaged as the lives and livelihoods of many in eight districts of Herat depend on water reservoir of Salma Dam.
It has called on the Taliban to stop its rocket attacks on Salma Dam, which is “a national asset and should not be damaged in the war.
The agency called for protection and prevention of any attack on the dam, adding that if the dam is damaged, the residents of Chesht and Kahsan districts will be badly affected.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has denied any involvement, saying, “We did not shoot at Salma Dam at all.” He claimed that the security of Kamal Khan Dam is now at the Taliban hands.
Salma Dam is located in the upper reaches of the Harirod River near Chesht district of Herat. It is 107 meters high and 550 meters long.
Technical and detailed studies of the dam were carried out in 1970s and its construction began soon after. After the rise of left-wing governments and the outbreak of civil war, its construction stalled for years. In 2005, India funded the project and the Indian Water and Energy Company was then commissioned to complete the dam.
In December 2015, the Indian government approved an estimated cost of about $ 290 million for the dam.
This is the largest project of the Afghan government in the last 20 years.
The dam was supposed to generate 42 megawatts of electricity and irrigate about 80,000 hectares of land.
It has a valve 24 meters wide, has three water reservoirs, each 10 meters long and 8 meters wide. Its water storage basin is approximately 22 km long and 3 km wide.