Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 9
India and Afghanistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Tuesday for the construction of a dam which would provide safe drinking water to over 20 lakh residents of Kabul city.
The MoU was signed by Foreign Ministers S Jaishanker and Hanif Atmar, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani.
However, this does not mean a final decision has been made.
The $250 million (approx. Rs 3,000 crore) Shatoot Dam project has been pending for over two years following objections from Pakistan as it fears impediment to the regular flow of water.
The dam is set to be built on Maidan River, a tributary of Kabul River which flows into Pakistan from Afghanistan.
Last November, Jaishankar had announced an agreement with Afghanistan for building the Shatoot Dam was close at hand, while speaking at an international conference on Afghanistan.
In tandem, India would launch the fourth phase of the High Impact Community Development Projects in Afghanistan involving over 100 projects worth $80 million (approx. Rs. 600 crore).
This is the second major dam being built by India in Afghanistan, after the India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam (Salma Dam).
India had earlier built the 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line which provides electricity to large parts of Kabul city.
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.
Now, India is making efforts to reduce Afghanistan’s over-dependence on Pakistan for access to the sea.
It is providing an alternate route by Chabahar port in Iran and has also opened a dedicated air freight corridor to Afghanistan.
Speaking on the occasion, PM Modi said India had invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan and would want the gains of the past two decades to be preserved.
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