In a move that further strengthens India-Afghan relations, the government on Tuesday announced that it is building a new dam in Afghanistan that will provide clean drinking water to millions of people in Kabul.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who led the Indian delegation at the 2020 Afghanistan Conference held virtually in Geneva from November 23 to 24, said that India has just signed an agreement with Afghanistan to construct Shatoot dam, which would provide safe drinking water to 2 million residents of Kabul city.
The Conference is co-hosted by the United Nations, the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and the government of Finland and aims to reaffirm the commitment of the international community to Afghanistan during the second half of the transformational decade 2015-2024.
The minister at the conference also announced the launch of Phase-IV of the High Impact Community Development Projects in Afghanistan, which envisages more than 100 projects worth US$ 80 million that India would undertake in Afghanistan.
India had earlier built the 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line that provided electricity to Kabul city.
In his statement, Jaishankar emphasised India's long-term commitment to the development of Afghanistan and the benefit of its people as a contiguous neighbour and strategic partner.
Jaishankar highlighted that no part of Afghanistan today is untouched by the 400-plus projects that India has undertaken in all 34 of Afghanistan's provinces. More than 65,000 Afghan students have also studied in India. India's development portfolio in Afghanistan has to-date amounted to over US$ 3 billion.
Afghanistan's growth has been constrained by its land-locked geography, the minister pointed out, highlighting New Delhi's efforts to provide an alternate connectivity through Chabahar port and a dedicated Air Freight Corridor between India and Afghanistan. India's humanitarian assistance of 75,000 tonnes of wheat to strengthen food security of Afghanistan during the Covid pandemic has been transported through Chabahar port.
India has invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan and it believes that the gains of the last two decades must be preserved and the interests of minorities, women and vulnerable sections must be ensured, Jaishankar said. The minister expressed concern regarding the increasing level of violence in Afghanistan and reiterated India's call for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.
As an important stakeholder, India looks forward to walk hand in hand with the people of Afghanistan and world community in working towards a peaceful, prosperous, sovereign, democratic and united Afghanistan, he added.