Hand in hand, Modi, Ghani inaugurate Friendship Dam

Heart—Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday officially inaugurated Salma Dam — the multi-million dollar hydroelectric project , in Herat. The dam was built and funded by India at a cost of $300 million.
Located in the Chesth-e-Sharif district, the hydroelectric project, which is on the Hari Rud river, is expected to benefit hundreds of thousands of families in four districts of the province, by providing them with electricity and irrigation water.
The dam, which is 20 km in length and three kilometres in width, has a water storage capacity of 640 million cubic meters. This will be utilized to generate 43 megawatts of electricity for 40,000 families and will irrigate 80,000 hectares of farmland, belonging to 50,000 families.
In welcoming Modi to the ceremony in Herat on Saturday, Ghani voiced his “profound gratitude to you, to the compassionate people and competent government of India.”
He said that with India’s help, a dream stretching back 40 years was realized on Saturday.
He went on to thank India for completing the Salma Dam, also known as the Friendship Dam, and praised security forces for ensuring security.
Directly following Ghani’s speech, the two leaders together hit the button to kickstart the turbines at the Salma Dam. Immediately, the sluice gates opened and water started flowing.
Addressing guests at the event following the start of the hydroelectric project, Modi said he was humbled by the generosity of Afghans and that this moment had been a very emotional one not only for Afghans but also for Indians. Modi said Afghans envisioned the project in 1970 but war and conflict not only damaged the country but also damaged a generation. He said that war will not stop the dreams of Afghans from happening He went on to say that Afghans have chosen the way of peace and negotiation with those who have tried to destabilize the country with the support of others.
He said that his country’s support will not be limited to Kabul, Kandahar and Herat in future but it will be expanded to include entire country.
He did, however, call on Afghans to live together in peace; saying that the division among them will benefit others. Modi said Afghanistan’s success is the hope of every Indian. “We want your improvement in economy, security and other sectors.”
He added that “we see others doubt in your future but your will is strong and you will reach your dreams”.
“It is symbol of our friendship and would usher in hope, light up homes, nourish the fertile fields of Heart and bring prosperity to the people of the region,” Modi said in a social media post as he departed for Afghanistan, the first stop on a five-country trip.
At more than 100 metres (330 feet) high and 540 metres (1,770 feet) wide, the dam is designed to generate 42 megawatts of power and help irrigate 75,000 hectares of land, according to Modi.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with Amir Amanullah Khan Award, the country’s highest civilian honour.
He was awarded the honour by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani after the inauguration of the landmark Afghan-India Friendship Dam.
“A true brotherhood is honoured. PM is awarded the Amir Amanullah Khan Award, Afghanistan’s highest civilian honour,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with a photo.
During his 25 minute-long speech after inaugurating the dam, Modi also invoked Chisht-born Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti who settled down in Ajmer and is venerated by thousands of people visiting his shrine.—Agencies

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