Kabul, January 14:

Indian engineers have started work on building a huge dam in the western Afghanistan province of Herat.

The project envisages the construction of a 107.5-metre earth and rock fill dam on the Hari Rud river. The power generation house on the river’s right bank will have three units to generate a total of 42 MW of power.

India had committed $84 million for the Salma dam project out of its $550 million assistance announced at the Berlin Conference in 2004 to rebuild the war-torn country.

A 14-km transmission line will be laid to transmit power from Chishte Sharif to Herat. Permanent buildings for the project at Chishte Sharif are also coming up. The project is scheduled to be completed in four years. India had originally undertaken construction of the Salma dam before political and military upheavals overtook Afghanistan and the country witnessed bloody civil wars and a fundamentalist Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001.

As peace returned after the rout of Taliban and reconstruction activities were revived, Water and Power Consultancy Services (India) Ltd (WAPCOS) prepared a fresh feasibility assessment and reworked the execution report.

WAPCOS had dealt with a number of micro/mini, major hydroelectric schemes and transmission line projects in Afghanistan prior to 1984. Given the experience of WAPCOS, the Indian government, in consultation with the Afghan authorities, entrusted several feasibility studies to it. These included the restoration and rehabilitation of seven mini/micro hydel schemes in northern Afghanistan.

WAPCOS conducted a survey for sinking 100 deep tube wells for irrigation and drinking water in Herat and has already completed the work of setting up 24 of these wells. Another 10 tube wells are being sunk in Nemroz province.

Other international agencies engaged in reconstruction work in Afghanistan are also utilising the expert services of WAPCOS in executing their projects in the infrastructure sectors.