KUNAR: Local residents and public officials back joint Afghan-Pakistan hydro dam

4 Sep 2013

KUNAR: Local residents and public officials back joint Afghan-Pakistan hydro dam

KUNAR - Provincial Council members and residents of eastern Kunar province have backed the proposed construction of a joint hydropower dam by Afghanistan and Pakistan on the Kunar River.

On the eve of President Hamid Karzai’s visit to the neighbouring country last week, Afghan and Pakistani finance ministers decided to pursue the dam project on technical and political forums.

Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal and his Pakistani counterpart Ishaq Dar, leading their respective delegations, held an in-depth discussion on exploring ways to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations.

Kunar Provincial Council chief Mia Hassan Adil said that a dam on Kunar River, a major tributary of Kabul River contributing almost 13 million acres feet (MAF) annually to Pakistan, would benefit both sides.

“I, as the head of Kunar council and public representative, welcome and appreciate the plan,” said Adil, who believed improved trade relations between the two countries would resolve common problems facing the two nations.

He said the people of Kunar would benefit the most from the dam, saying Kunar was a mountainous province with small swaths of arable lands. If the dam was built, Kunar would turn into an industrial zone, he added.

Political expert Mohammad Zubair Spesalai held positive view about the dam project. He said if Pakistan extended its sincere cooperation to Afghanistan in the areas of mutual interest, it would help enhance trade relations and people-to-people and government-to-government contracts.

A local resident, Roohullah, said the dam project would not only resolve energy crisis, but also leave a positive impact on the security situation in the region.

He said new factories would be established in Kunar once the dam was constructed and residents would be able to find jobs and lead a prosperous life.

Experts say 300 megawatts of electricity could be produced with the construction of another dam on the river in Sagai area near Asadabad.

A survey during Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan (the first Afghan president after King Zahir Shah, from 1973 to 1978) government had found that 1,000 megawatts of electricity could be generated at the Sara Taq area in Asmar district on the river.

The Afghan government has previously conducted a survey with Indian assistance in Shal and Shagai areas, noting that the sites had the potential to produce more than 1,000 megawatts of electricity. However, it is not clear whether Pakistan will construct the proposed dam on the surveyed sites.

Source: Pajhwok Afghan News and Sharq TV