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Wapcos’ Afghanistan project gets delayed

Wapcos’ Afghanistan project gets delayed

New Delhi: The 42MW Salma hydroelectric project that India is developing in Afghanistan’s Herat province is facing delays due to security threats to Indians working there, said an official involved in the project.

“The civil work have been delayed by a year on account of security concerns," he said, declining to be identified. The civil work on the project was expected to be completed by early last year.

The project, which is being developed by Indian government agency Water and Power Consultancy Services (India) Ltd, or Wapcos, will have three units of 14MW each. The project involves construction of a dam on the Harirud river between Badghis and Herat provinces. The total project cost is $80 million (about Rs400 crore), which is being borne by India.

India has been assisting Afghanistan in rebuilding infrastructure and has spent about Rs1,180 crore in the past three years on the war-ravaged nation. It recently completed the construction of the 218km road link in that country connecting Delaram with Zaranj, adjacent to Iran’s border.

“We have to ensure the security of the personnel. Sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control, there are delays," said a senior official at India’s ministry of external affairs, who didn’t want to be identified.

Indian workers in Afghanistan have increasingly come under attack from regrouped Taliban forces. Twelve Indians have died in terrorist attacks there between November 2005 and December 2008.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee had in a recent reply to the Rajya Sabha said that “a continued deterioration in the security situation may adversely impact the smooth and timely implementation of development projects in which Indian professionals are engaged in Afghanistan".

An Afghanistan government official posted in New Delhi said: “There are problems related to security. However, we are working towards providing all kinds of assistance to the personnel working on the project." He requested anonymity.

Wapcos is hopeful that the project will be commissioned by 2010. “We expect the project to be commissioned by December 2010. The commissioning depends on the Afghanistan government," said D. Dutta, chairman and managing director, Wapcos. He declined to comment on security issues affecting the project.

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