Herat (Afghanistan), June 4:
The success of Afghanistan is the hope and desire of all Indians, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday after he and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani jointly inaugurated a dam built with Indian assistance.
“Afghanistan’s success is a deeply held hope and desire of every Indian,” Modi said after the inauguration of the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma Dam.
“It comes from the love and admiration for Afghans in our hearts,” he said.
“We want to see your democracy strike deep roots; your people unite; and, your economy prosper.”
Modi said his visit to Afghanistan’s Herat was not just about launching a project that would irrigate land and light up homes.
“We are reviving a region, restoring hope, renewing life and redefining Afghanistan’s future,” he said.
“The dam is a generator not just of electricity but also of optimism and belief in the future of Afghanistan.”
Apart from irrigating the fields of 640 villages in Chiste, Obe, Pashtun Zarghun, Karokh, Gozara, Injil, Zindjan, Kohsan and Ghoryan in Herat province in western Afghanistan, the prime minister said the dam would also bring light to over 250,000 homes in this area.
“This dam has not been built by bricks and mortar, but by the faith of our friendship and the valour of Afghans and Indians,” he said.
“And, at this moment of pride, we also stand in grief and gratitude for lives sacrificed so that Afghan people will have a future they so richly deserve and so deeply desire.”
Modi said India has partnered Afghanistan in building schools, health centres and irrigation facilities for rural communities.
This partnership, he said, has empowered women with skills and the youth with education to shoulder the responsibility for Afghanistan’s future.
“We have joined hands to build roads that bridge the distances of your country, from Zaranj to Delaram, and transmission lines that bring power to your homes,” the prime minister said.
“Now, India’s investment in the port at Chahbahar in Iran will give Afghanistan a new route to the world and a new path to prosperity.”
India, Iran and Afghanistan last month signed a trilateral agreement in Tehran to develop the Chabahar poort in the Gulf of Oman for trade and transit corridor.
“The fruits of our friendship are not confined to Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar and Herat. They will never be,” Modi said.
“Our cooperation will extend to every part of Afghanistan. Our partnership will benefit every section of Afghan society.”
Originally constructed in 1976 on the Hari river basin, the Salma Dam suffered extensive damage during the Afghan civil war.
It was built at a cost of approximately Rs 1,700 crore by 1,500 Indian and Afghan engineers, technocrats and other professionals.
Three turbines on the dam will produce 42 MW of electricity and the water will irrigate around 75,000 hectares of land.
The dam is a landmark infrastructure project undertaken by the Indian government and has been executed and implemented by Wapcos, an Indian government undertaking under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
The dam is located 165 km east of Herat city and connected by an earthen road.
The dam symbolises India’s continued support for developmental work in the violence-ridden nation.
In December last year, Modi and Ghani jointly inaugurated a new building of the Afghan parliament in Kabul built with Indian aid.
Modi arrived here earlier on Saturday on the first leg of his five-nation tour that will also take him to Qatar, Switzerland, the US and Mexico. (IANS)