Dahla Dam’s height increase project hits snag
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): The project to raise Dahla Dam, the largest in southern Kandahar province, has been stalled for some reasons, but the project’s first phase is 80 percent complete and the remaining is to be finished over the next two months, an official said on Thursday.
Kandahar Irrigation Director, Eng. Sher Mohammad Attaee, told Pajhwok Afghan News during an exclusive interview that the dam’s reconstruction project has two phases.
“The phase one includes construction of the dam’s small and big gates, valve house and extension of the outlet tunnel and phase-2 is raising the dam by eight metres,” he said.
Attaee said the project phase-1 had been completed by 80 percent and the remaining would be completed over the next two months. The total cost on the phase-1 is estimated at $71 million being provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The contractor for the phase-1 is a Turkish company, which has been effectively carrying out its activities, according to Attaee.
He said completion of the phase-1 would prevent the dam’s water from being wasted and would pave the ground for launching the phase-2, which has been halted for the time being.
Once the dam is raised by eight metres, six more supporting dams would be constructed along it besides construction of the dam’s gates. It would help increase the dam’s power-producing capacity, he said.
These activities would cost $308 million, to which the Ministry of Finance would contribute $37 million and the rest by USAID.
He said it had been decided that the initial works would be started with the Finance Ministry’s $37m, but the ministry could not provide the money, thus forcing the USAID to halt the project.
He called as crucial raising of the dam’s banks, saying the reservoir was 40 percent silted, reducing its water storage capacity from 484 million cubic square metres to 300 million cubic square metres.
He said agriculture lands in seven districts, Shah Walikot, Arghandab, Zheri, Panjwai, Maiwand, Dand and Daman were irrigated from the dam, benefiting 2.5 million people.
Attaee said if the dam was raised, it would not only help resolve the scarcity of irrigation water but also enhance the power-producing capacity to 10 megawatts.
The irrigation director urged the government to make serious efforts at initiating the second phase after completion of the phase-1, which was about to finish over the next two months.
He said the dam was full of water, which would be released to farmers through its network of canals until next week.
Residents said they were unhappy with the project’s halt and asked the government to resume work on it on a priority basis.
A resident of Shah Walikot district, Haji Azizullah, told Pajhwok Afghan News residents were ready to vacate their homes to pave the ground for raising the dam’s banks.
He said land, homes and orchards of 5000 people were to be submerged in water in Shah Walikot district with the dam’s reconstruction and residents were ready to be shifted to other areas and vacate their homes. But the project has been stopped, he lamented.
He said the dam’s was the only irrigation source for people and the government should complete it with financial support from USAID and the World Bank.
A resident of Arghandab’s Manar area, Noor Mohammad, also said the dam’s reconstruction would help overcome the shortage of irrigation water and electricity.
Earlier, Canada has rehabilitated many of the irrigation canals south of Dahla Dam as part of the Arghandab Irrigation Rehabilitation Project at a cost of $50 million from 2009 to 2011.
First built in 1950-52 on the Arghandab River 30 kilometres northeast of Kandahar City, the Dahla Dam’s technical and structural parts have been destroyed due to 30 years of the conflict and negligence.
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