Over the years, the relations between India and Afghanistan have worked great wonders for the Gulf country. Not just historical neighbours, both the countries share cultural ties through more than one. As per experts, India has been the only country globally that recognized the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
As a result, many Indians have been working for the country’s development there. Right from committing a $120 million support to developing various projects in different fields to help the country with covid vaccine friendship, both the countries have come a long way. However, one achievement that the country has seen during this time is the building of the Shahtoot Dam.
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Shahtoot Dam and Project Impact
Shahtoot Dam has been proposed to be built in the CharAsiab District of Kabul Province. This dam will provide drinking water to more than two million families, irrigation facilities to 4000 hectares of land, and environmental water for Kabul city. Furthermore, this dam will promote the country’s tourism industry and increase the job opportunities for the people of Afghanistan. In addition, it will contribute towards national food security. There will also be a recharge of groundwater which is important for drinking purposes in Kabul.
Talking about the cost, this project is estimated to be around US$236 million. The project’s feasibility study had cost $1.86 million; it was completed in 2012. As per the reports, the returns per year from this project will be about US$2 million. Indian engineers will take charge of the construction.
Water shortage has been a big problem in Afghanistan over the years. The lack of water has led to the shortages in food and uncontrolled commodity price increase leading to conflicts within the country. This made Ashraf Ghani, the ex-president of Afghanistan take up a project that would secure the nation’s need for water. Shahtoot Dam is a result of that thought process.
Candidates can read about the diplomatic India and Afghanistan relations at the linked article.
Signing of MOU
In Feb 2021, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between India and Afghanistan to build the Shahtoot Dam, also known as Lalander Dam. It was decided that the dam will be built on Maidan River, which is the tributary of the Kabul river. As per the reports, this deal was made to strengthen India- Afghanistan’s new development partnership.
This MOU was signed through a virtual summit between India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar and his Afghan counterpart Mohammed Haneef Atmar in the presence of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani.
After the construction and inauguration of the India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam, which is known as Salma Dam, in 2016, a similar second initiative was taken by both countries.
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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and President Ashraf Ghani Talks
Ashraf Ghani had dedicated this dam to both countries’ friendship and said that this dam was an act of exceptional generosity; he thanked India for the gift of water. He mentioned that this dam would restore the beauty of Kabul that was there during Mughal Emperor Babur‘s regime.
PM Narendra Modi said that this dam would mark Afghanistan’s journey towards more success and increasing India-Afghan friendship.
The Taliban Takeover
Afghanistan has been reeling under the effects of war due to the escalating tensions post Taliban takeover this year. Now, the question arises of what will happen to the Indian investments or constructions just like the Shahtoot dam that took place over there. India has adopted a wait-and-watch policy in this case as direct decisions might hamper any thought process.
Whatever said, Shahtoot Dam needs to be completed to improve the condition of the country and its people. With more than 400 projects completed by India in all the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, it has made itself the largest donor in this war-torn country with a 3 billion around donation so far. India’s projects have changed the lives of Afghans over the years. Shahtoot Dam is expected to stand the test of time as a hallmark of Afghanistan-India friendship.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Shahtoot Dam
Shahtoot dam on which river?
The Shahtoot Dam is an ambitious project expected to come up in the Kabul River basin, Afghanistan.
Who termed Shahtoot Dam the ‘Gift of Life?’
President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, thanked India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Shahtoot Dam referring to it as the “Gift of Life” after the signing of the MoU for the project.
What is the cost of the Shahtoot Dam project?
The cost of the Shahtoot Dam project in Afghanistan’s Kabul district is estimated to be US236$ million.