Afghanistan made a major step toward socio-economic prosperity on 4th of June this year when the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narindra Modi joined the Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam) in Chesht-e-Sharif district in the western Herat province.
The completion of the long-awaited Salma Dam, a mega infrastructure project, is a valued gift—an attribute of the friendship from the Indian government and the people of India for the Afghans. 40 years ago the then Afghan President, Mohammad Dawood Khan, signed an agreement with the then Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Ghandi, allowing India to start building the hydropower dam. Despite the years of war and instability that stalled the start of the project, and the setbacks during its construction in the recent years, India stood by and delivered its promises. At the cost of 300 million US dollars, paid by India, the building of the Salma Dam, located at the upper Hari Rud River in Herat province, created hundreds of jobs for locals. Now that it is completed, with the reservoir that spreads 20 kilometres in length and 3.7 in width, the Salma Dam releases water for irrigation of 75,000 hectares of land. Also, the hydropower capacity generating 42 megawatts, supply electricity to thousands of homes and businesses across the west of the country. According to Faqir Ahmad Bayangar, the director of Herat Agriculture and Live Stock Department, 30,000 farmers will have access to much-needed water to for their farms and can increase their producing capacity. “Farmers can cultivate more wheat, soybeans, saffron and other produce to export to other countries,” he told Sada e Azadi. “In addition to the agri-business, other industries will also thrive with the electricity supplied from the Salma Dam.” As the locals in Herat city, and in many other districts in the province, celebrated the event and welcomed Mr. Modi’s arrival, President Ghani hailed Afghan-India friendship as a historical and strong relationship. “You are at your second home,” he said in his address at the inauguration ceremony referring to the Indian Prime Minister. “You turned the light switch on in the homes of many people who waited for 40 years. We all thank you!” The President also praised the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) for their hard work in maintaining security around the Salma Dam. “The completion of this project is a poke in the eyes of the terrorists and the enemies of peace,” he said. India’s extended friendship is also evident in other parts of Afghanistan including the recently built new Afghan Parliament House in Kabul. “India happily maintains its old friendship with Afghanistan. Our solidarity with the people of Afghanistan will not remain limited in Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif or Herat, we will do our best for the prosperity of the entire country,” Prime Minister Modi said at the ceremony. “We support Afghanistan’s democratic values in the region and at the international level.”