India inks dam project to bring drinking water to Kabul: Jaishankar

Project pending for two years following Pakistan’s objections

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24

India on Tuesday announced additional commitments for Afghanistan, including the construction of a dam that will provide safe drinking water to 20 lakh residents of Kabul city, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar announced at an international conference on Afghanistan.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. Photo: @MEAIndia/Twitter

The approximately $ 250 million (about Rs 3,000 crore) project has been pending for two years following objections from Pakistan as it fears impediment to the regular flow of water. The dam is proposed to be built on Maidan River, a tributary of Kabul River which flows into Pakistan from Afghanistan.

India will also launch the fourth phase of the High Impact Community Development Projects in Afghanistan, which envisages more than 100 projects worth $ 80 million (about Rs 600 crore) that India would undertake in Afghanistan.

Jaishankar said India had just concluded with Afghanistan an agreement for the construction of the Shatoot dam. India had earlier built the 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line that provides electricity to large parts of Kabul city.

Jaishankar is leading the Indian delegation at the 2020 Afghanistan Conference being organised in the virtual mode by the UN and, Afghan and Finnish governments to reaffirm the International community’s commitment to Afghanistan during 2015-2024.

In his statement, EAM emphasised India’s long term commitment to the development of Afghanistan and the benefit to its people as a contiguous neighbour and strategic partner.

India’s development portfolio in Afghanistan has to-date amounted to over $ 3 billion with no part of the country untouched by the 400 plus projects that India has undertaken in its 34 provinces. More than 65,000 Afghan students have also studied in India.

Jaishankar pointed out that Afghanistan’s growth has been constrained by its land-locked geography and highlighted India’s efforts to provide an alternate connectivity through Chabahar port and a dedicated air freight corridor between India and Afghanistan. India’s humanitarian assistance of 75,000 tonnes of wheat to strengthen food security of Afghanistan during the Covid pandemic has been transported through Chabahar port.

India has invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan and believes that the gains of the last two decades must be preserved and the interests of minorities, women and vulnerable sections must be ensured. Jaishankar expressed concern regarding the increasing level of violence in Afghanistan and reiterated India’s call for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.

“As an important stakeholder, India looks forward to walking hand in hand with the people of Afghanistan and the world community in working towards a peaceful, prosperous, sovereign, democratic and united Afghanistan,’’ said a MEA release.

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