Afghans on Saturday hailed India as a true ally of the nation after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the Afghan-India Friendship Dam.
Also known as the Salma Dam, the multi-million dollar hydroelectric project was officially "switched on" on Saturday by both leaders.The dam has a water storage capacity of 640 million cubic meters and is able to generate up to 43 megawatts of electricity for 40,000 families and will irrigate 80,000 hectares of farmland, belonging to 50,000 families.India has been the fifth largest donor to Afghanistan in the post-Taliban era by providing $2 billion USD in aid to Afghanistan over the past fifteen years.This has gone towards reconstruction programs in various sectors including economic development, infrastructures and military sphere.This dam was rebuilt and funded by India at a cost of $300 million USD.Located in the Chesth-e-Sharif district, the hydroelectric project, which is on the Hari Rud river, is expected to benefit hundreds of thousands of families in four districts of the province, by providing them with electricity and irrigation water.Alongside financial cooperation, India has also supported the Afghan military forces and today hundreds of Afghan army recruits pursue military education in that country.India has also provided a number of military aircraft to Afghanistan in recent months to boost the capacity of Afghan forces.Modi's trip to Afghanistan has drawn a wide reaction among social media users in Afghanistan. Many Afghans say that whenever Indian leaders visit Afghanistan, they bring hope to Afghans."Salma Dam is a national project, construction of the dam is a positive move," a resident of Kunar province Matiullah said."Economically people will find jobs, in-fact it is a key economic and infrastructural project," a resident of Balkh province Younas said.Relations between Afghanistan and India have a historical background. After the collapse of the Taliban regime, India has played a key and effective role in Afghanistan's reconstruction process."I want to ask the government to ask the international community to implement similar projects in other provinces," Kunar resident Baran Safai said."It is a public utility and positive project, this will help people to get an advantage," MP Mohammad Hashim Ortaq said.Meanwhile, a number of analysts have said that the growing ties between Afghanistan and India has created unease in certain countries in the region."When it comes to the issue of eliminating terrorism, India not only today, as well as in the future, India will continue playing a role, because both Afghanistan and India are suffering from terrorism," military analyst Atiqullah Amarkhail said."Our students, graduates, officers and recruits are pursuing their education in India and they return to the country and serve the people of Afghanistan. India also delivered us four MI25 helicopters," said Dawlat Waziri, a defense ministry spokesman.