Afghanistan, India inaugurate major dam

AP News
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Posted: Jun 04, 2016 6:04 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a multi-million-dollar dam in western Afghanistan on Saturday that will bring power and irrigation to vast tracts of the war-torn country.

The Afghan-India Friendship Dam in Herat province, which borders Iran, was built with Indian aid at a cost of $300 million and was under construction for about a decade.

Modi arrived in Afghanistan Saturday for the formal inauguration of the project, which will provide 42 megawatts of power and irrigate 75,000 hectares (185,000 acres) of agricultural land.

"Afghanistan and India have long and continued relations and today millions of ties bind our nations together," Ghani said at the inauguration ceremony in Herat.

Foundations for the dam were laid about 40 years ago, also with Indian assistance, in the Chishti-Sharif district of Herat on the Heray Rud River. Construction was delayed by attacks on engineers, workers and guards.

The dam is 20 kilometers (12 miles) long and three kilometers (one mile) wide, with a capacity of 640 million cubic meters of water. It is one of a number of dam projects that Ghani has slated for Afghanistan's post-conflict development.

"Afghanistan will not be stopped here," Ghani said in Herat, the provincial capital, about 160 kilometers (99 miles) from the dam site. "We are determined to move forward despite the challenges and difficulties."

Ghani hailed the dam as a symbol of bilateral ties with India. Afghanistan has cultivated closer ties with India in recent years as a balance to neighboring Pakistan, which has been accused of supporting the Taliban insurgency.