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Taliban threaten Pashdan Dam construction in Herat

Taliban threaten Pashdan Dam construction in Herat

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Nov 07, 2020 - 20:02

HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): Talibaninfo-icon insurgents have warned officials and workers of the under construction Pashdan Dam in western Herat province to stop work on the project.

In a letter Taliban sent to the dam’s officials it is said the project has not been inked with the Taliban, therefore work on the project should be stopped.

Taliban military in-charge for Korokh district has written to the district chief that security personnel discharging duty on the dam site, drivers and project engineers would not be safe if Taliban’s order is violated.

Another document available with Pajhwok Afghan News shows the Taliban have asked officials of the dam to provide one percent out of ten --- known as Usharinfo-icon --- and when their demand was declined, the Taliban issued them warnings and death threat.

A security report of the Pashdan Dam project signed by Mohammad Arif Achakzai, the project manager, says that the Taliban have started patrolling villages of Chahar Burjak, Abgarmak, Morcha Khwan, Khairabad, Surkhrod, Chaghmaq, Anbar Jandah Khawan, Ali Afghan, Rabat Surkh, Salehabad and Dezak in recent days and have been trying to put pressure on security personnel protecting the project.

The report says 17 engineers from India, one from Ukraine, 150 local and 800 labourers are working on the project while 400 light and heavy vehicles are being used in the project.

The report urges the need for thwarting security threats and warns the Taliban have been trying to exert more pressure and posing security threats.

The security report says work on Pashdan Dam has reached a crucial stage and any attack would stop work on the Dam.

Eng. Syed Hussain Fazali, head of the Harirud  Zone in Herat, confirmed threats posed by the Taliban to the dam project and said their threats have not yet led to stoppage of work on the power project.

He said the local administration had been informed regarding the Taliban threat and it would take necessary measures in this regard.

Fazli said work on the dam would continue until circumstances allowed them. He said 50 percent work on Pashdan Dam had been completed and the remaining work was underway in full speed.

Ghulam Habib Hashami, a Provincial Council member in Herat, said the Taliban not only threatened work on the Pashdan Dam but they also issued warnings to other development schemes in other parts of the province and demanded their share in these projects.

He said the Pashdan Dam project was a national scheme and a large number of security personnel from the Public Security Battalion were protecting the site.

He also confirmed Taliban’s presence in nearby villages and said the government should put in place a strategy to dislodge the rebels from these villages.

Referring to the fact that the Taliban demand share in all uplift projects, he said recently the Taliban demanded 10 percent share in construction of two bridges in 13 municipality districts in the Ishaq Sulaiman locality.

He said the Taliban even blew up the site with explosives but local residents stood against the Taliban and refused to give them any share in the projects.

The residents of Herat also expressed their concern over Taliban’s threat to development projects and asked the government not to take these issues simply.

Syed Massoud, a resident, said, “Pashdan Dam is a national asset and the site is a sightseeing place for the people of Herat and they will not allow the Taliban to stop work on the dam. We want the government to launch operations to clear the area from the Taliban.”

But Jilani Farhad, the governor spokesperson, said security of construction work of the dam and other development projects was the provincial government’s priority.

He said besides a large number of security personnel tasked with protection of the dam project, the residents also strongly supported the ongoing project.

He alleged some groups tried to stop work on the vital project by creating propaganda and false news but security forces and the local administration would not allow anyone to harm the project and the ongoing work.

Taliban Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid was asked for comment in this regard but he declined to respond.

However, earlier the Taliban had told Pajhwok Afghan News that the group had asked for money in some development projects and would not allow work on the project until the Taliban Procurement Commission granted the project permission.

The Pashdan Dam is situated 20 kilometres east of Herat City in Korokh district.

Work on the project kicked off in 2011 and was expected to be completed in three years but due to uncertainty, the project was not completed in due time and suffered delay and stoppage of work.

According to local officials, the Pashdan Dam is being constructed at the converging point of three rivers --- the Korokh, SyahAb and Seer Ab. This will have the capacity to store 54 million cubic water, irrigate 13,000 hectares of land and generate 2MW electricity and the site would become a tourist spot.

The silent feature of the project is storage of drinking water --- a grave issue in some developing and developed countries.

The dam site is expected become a tourist place where a large number of people from Herat City would be visiting.

Not only the completion of Salama Dam, people in the western zone have also been waiting for construction of Tirpal, Pashdan and Gulfgan dams in Herat and  Bakashabad and Kamal Khan dams in Farah and Nimroz provinces.

This report has been produced by Pajhwok and financially supported by UNDP and Denmark.

nh/ma

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