Afghan minister calls for renaming India-aided dam

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) An Afghan minister on Thursday proposed to rename the India-aided Salma dam in the country as Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam.

Afghan Minister of Energy and Water Ali Ahmad Osmani said this while pointing to the success of the India-aided Salma dam in Afghanistan, as its reservoirs began filling last week.

“I intend to propose that the Salma project be renamed as the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam. The people in that area of the country are very happy,” Osmani said in his inaugural address at the Afghanistan India Renewable Energy Summit here.

The minister also called on India to deepen its age-old cooperation with Afghanistan as a way to benefit the strife-torn region.

India is spending $300 million on the dam project, expected to produce 42 MW of electricity and water to irrigate nearly 80,000 hectares of farmland.

On July 28, when water started filling up the reservoir, the people took out joyful processions, beating traditional drums.

“India has been helping Afghan reconstruction for the last 14 years. These and other projects like the transnational TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline will not only develop the region but will also give dynamic to cooperation between countries,” Osmani said.

The two-day business conference to promote renewable energies in Afghanistan is jointly organised by both the governments and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci). The Afghan delegation also includes the country’s Minister of Rural Development Nasir Ahmed Durrani.

The conference is supported by USAID, the foreign aid agency of the US.

Solar energy is being considered a key part of Afghanistan’s energy security, particularly as the southern part of the country gets abundant sunshine for around 300 days a year.

The Indian government, along with USAID, is currently in the process of setting up a 10 MW solar power plant in the Afghan city of Kandahar.

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