Reflecting enduring mutual goodwill, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani jointly inaugurated the landmark Afghan-India friendship dam, a Rs 1,700 crore ($300 million approx) infrastructure project by India on June 4 in the strategically important Herat province.
The dam reflects India’s strong commitment to reconstruction of Afghanistan which has been hit by rising extremism and instability in the past three decades. The Afghan-India Friendship Dam, which was earlier known as Salma Dam, on river Chist-e-Sharif in western Herat will irrigate 75,000 hectares of land. The dam is expected to generate 42 MW of power. “This dam has not been built by bricks and mortar, but by the faith of our friendship and the valour of Afghans and Indians. 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,” Mr Modi said.
Afghanistan is Mr Modi’s first stop as a part of his five-nation tour, which also includes Qatar, Switzerland, US and Mexico. This is his second visit to Afghanistan in six months. The Afghan-India Friendship Dam is located 165 km east of Herat town and it is expected to significantly boost the agricultural economy of the province. “Today, the world will see the Harirud River as an abiding emblem of our commitment to a shared future of progress. And, the Friendship Dam unites us in solidarity as Chishti Sharif joined us in spirit centuries ago,” Mr Modi said.
The project has been executed and implemented by WAPCOS Ltd. The project is an undertaking by the government of India under the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation ministry . Addressing the inauguration ceremony, Mr Ghani welcomed Mr Modi to Afghanistan and said that a “long standing dream” of the country has been realised after 30 years with help from India.
“Today, we come together to make eternal India Afghan ties and friendship. This Dam will chart a new course of cooperation and Prosperity,” Mr Ghani said. “Our people identify India with roads, dams and over 200 small development projects,” he added. “Contrary to those who spread chaos and destruction, we two countries have taken the joint decision to build and grow,” Mr Ghani said.
Citing the holy Quran, Mr Modi said: “River is central to the image of Paradise.” He also spoke about how rivers defined our nation and were celebrated as the giver of life in India’s ancient scriptures.
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