Sarda dam could provide jobs for 20,000 peopleBy Mirwais Himmat Oct 18, 2010 - 18:40
GHAZNI CITY (PAN): The revival of a dam and farm in southern Ghazni province could provide work for 20,000 people, officials said on Monday.
The Sarda project has 45,000 acres of land which the dam used to irrigate, and provide crops and vegetables for Ghazni and six neighbouring provinces.
Up until the Soviet invasion, the farm ran smoothly, manager of the project, Ghulam Mustafa, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
The project used to have 600 trucks, 200 tractors, 30 vehicles for transportation of employees, 13 chain tractors and 15 combine tractors, but they were destroyed or looted during the three decades of war in Afghanistan, he said.
There were 40 buildings for administration and houses for staff inside the Chardiwal farm and the dam, he added.
The project manager showed the destroyed machines, vehicles and tractors to reporters.
Before the farm had 9,000 employees and workers, now there area is managed by six employees of the farm.
If the government does not take urgent steps, all 45,000 acres of land will be lost, Naqibullah, in charge of irrigation, said.
Both powerful and ordinary people use the project’s land, he added.
They have told authorities more than 10 times over the past three years about the problems of the farm, but no official has been to visit the site, manager of the project, said.
Three years ago, President Hamid Karzai, promised Ghazni people during a visit to Andar that he would reconstruct the Sarda dam and seize its land back from warlords and other people.
The Sarda dam is located 15 kilometres northeast of Chardiwal farm and borders Paktika province.
The project was established with financial support from Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during the rule of King Zahir Shah in 1964.
The Sarda dam is 1.5 kilometres long, 460 metres wide and 32 metres deep and has the capacity to hold 259 million cubic metres of water.
During the visit, soldiers of Afghan National Army (ANA) did not allow reporters to take photos or videos.
“Our entire struggle has been to reconstruct the dam including all of its canals in the district,” Andar district chief, Sherkhan Yousufzai, said.
The biggest canals of the dam are in danger of collapsing if no attention is paid to them, he added.
He had presented some proposals to the governor and to donor agencies, he said.
With the construction of the dam, there would be work for more than 20,000 people, the economy of the province would be developed and peace would be strengthened, he added.
Construction of the dam would help with the development of economy and unemployment in the province, the governor, Muhammad Musa Khan Akbarzada, said.
They had planned to launch work on two smaller dams, Zankhan and Sultan, near Sarda, he added.
First they will try to take back the land from those who are illegally occupying it, he added.
They also need new machines for the Sarda project, he added.
Local people were also keen to have the project revived, which they said would create employment and irrigate their barren lands.
Khairullah, a shopkeeper in the Char Diwal bazaar, said his 15 acres of land had become useless due to the lack of water.
The canals provided enough water for irrigation, and the people received greater yields from their orchards and farms, he said.
"I was 10 years old when they canals were constructed, but then the canals filled with mud and no one has cleaned them over the past 30 years," he said.
Before the invasion of Soviets, the Sarda farm produced thousands of tonnes of wheat, potatoes, onions, grapes and apples.