On 4th June 2016, Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited Afghanistan. PM Modi and the President of Afghanistan Mr. Ashraf Ghani inaugurated India Friendship dam in Herat. The Salma Dam inauguration has taken the development partnership of both countries to the next level. The project was executed and implemented by WAPCOS Ltd. – a consultancy organization and public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation of India. In fact, it is one of the biggest infrastructure projects for India. This Dam in Herat was built with a total cost of $300 million. Water provided by the dam will also irrigate the region along the countryside which is devastated by 15 year drought condition. It is also the latest symbol of Indian Investment in its South Asian Neighbor.

The Salma Dam was built in Western Herat in 1967. During Civil Wars of 1990s, it got damaged and was reconstructed by the 1500 Afghan and Indian Engineers. India has invested more than one billion dollars for the reconstruction of Afghanistan dam project and humanitarian aid. With this, it has become one of the largest donors to the war torn country.  The dam has storage capacity of 640 million cubic meters water that can irrigate 80000 acres of land and can generate 43 Megawatt of electricity. With this project, it is expected that there will be great transformation of the agricultural sector that can also help to raise the economy at a significant rate.

With this project, PM Modi seeks to expand the economic presence of India in Afghanistan. Moreover, there will be improvement in transport connectivity and economic collaboration with the countries in South and Central Asia. The investment of more than $100 million in expansion of Chabahar port in the South-Eastern Iran will set up the hub for the transportation of goods and products to landlocked Afghanistan. With this initiative, the people in Herat get overwhelmed and came forward in support of this project. President Ghani appreciated the growing friendship and said that the two countries have a firm conviction and resolution that prosperity and progress of one means that of another.

While addressing at this event, Shri Narendra Modi elaborated the concept of this project. PM Modi said that rivers have defined our nation and these were celebrated as the giver of life in the ancient times. In the Holy Quran, rivers are considered as the image of Paradise.

He mentioned an Afghan Proverb, “Kabul be zar basha be barf ne.”

It means that May Kabul be without gold rather than snow. For the snow feeds the rivers that sustain life and agriculture.

The Afghanistan India Friendship Dam has revived the region, restored the hope, renewed the lives and redefined the future of the country. The project will irrigate the field of 640 villages in Pashtun, Karokh, Chiste, Obe, Zarghun, Gozara, Zindjan, Injil, Ghoryan and Kohsan. The electricity generated will enlighten 250 thousand homes in this region. We have come forward to honor and celebrate the Afghan Determination to build a future of prosperity.

In the words of PM Modi, “India cherishes the friendship with Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, we want to see democracy strike deep roots, people unite & economy prosper.”

This project has overcome all the distances, hurdles, violence and threats. The water provided for irrigation in the fields will produce saffron and fruits which will provide earning to the people. In this way, they can raise the opportunities for themselves. The lightning sources will improve the standards of living, therefore people can raise the employment opportunities.

Shri Narendra Modi said that the Herat City will rise again and it will become the social hub very soon. He appreciated the support, understanding and belief of people, State Government and Government of Afghanistan. The eternal bond formed between two nations will be an example for the entire nation. In the past years, the Harirud River was the one stand of our connected histories but now people can observe it as an abiding emblem of our commitment to a shared future of progress. According to him, India and Afghanistan share similarity in culture, tradition, faith, humanity and moral values.

In the words of PM Modi, “This is a project that will irrigate lands & light up homes. The dam is a generator of optimism & belief in the future of Afghanistan.”

The fruits of friendship are not only specified to the regions like Mazar, Kabul, Herat and Kandahar. The other areas like Pashtuns, Tajiks, and Uzbeks are also covered. He appreciated the security services across the border lines. In his speech, Modi quoted the iconic Sufi preacher Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti – whose home village lies at the foot of the dam – as saying “human beings must have the affection of the sun, the generosity of the river and the hospitality of the earth”.

PM Modi said that your friendship is our honor, your dreams are our duty and to support this fact we will involve great efforts and will stand in the tough times. We have joined hands for many causes like building roads and bridges from Zaranj to Delaram. We have come forward for the empowerment of women and young generation. According to him, the capacity of our country can be limited but the promised have no limits. The strong relation that the both countries have shared will define the faith and trust in social and moral values. This partnership has raised the standards by building schools and health centers and providing irrigation facilities to the rural areas.

Contributor: Sunpreet Kaur