Work on vital Kamal Khan Dam moving at snail's pace
ZARANJ (Pajhwok): Residents have complained construction work on Kamal Khan Dam in southwestern Nimroz province was moving with a slow-paced due to government's inefficiency.
The dam is being constructed on Helmand River in Chahar Burjak district of Nimroz province. The construction work on the vital project had begun in 1973 but was deferred due to revolution in the country.
The Kamal Khan Dam construction costs $100 million funded by the World Bank (WB). The initial work included construction of a 3,400-metre wall having 32 metres width and 6 to 11 meters height.
In the second phase, a similar wall on the other side of the river would be constructed, with the river's bed cemented.
In the third phase, power producing generators would be installed, the last stage to complete the project.
Nearly 40,000 acres of land would come under irrigation and 8.5 megawatts of electricity would be generated from the project.
Residents complain that work on the second phase of the dam should complete and work on third phase start last year because people were in dire need of irrigation water and electricity.
Based on contract, the second phase of the construction should complete in late 2014, but work on the phase was still underway, a local elder Haji Baran told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He said construction of the dam was suspended for three months last year due to unknown reasons and currently the process was going on slowly.
Nimroz provincial council head Mohammad Seddiq Chakhansori also criticized the slow-paced work and said the government had not any decisive plan to complete the project on time.
People are optimistic that the dam could be constructed on time because the work on the project was moving very slowly. He demanded the government to take accelerated steps to complete the scheme without further delay.
Most of Nimroz residents are associated with agriculture sector and the completion of the dam would help resolve water shortage issue of the entire province almost.
Mohammad, a farmer from Chahar Burjak area of the district, criticized the government for failing to complete the dam despite it has received millions of dollars from the international community.
Another farmer Toor Gul said four decades ago, the province was popular for its large-scale crops production but now it suffered from serious shortage of irrigation water.
Nimroz is a sand-covered province and its wells’ water is salty. The water level in Helmand River passing through the province has also went down.
The estimated population of Zaranj is 300,000 and 90 percent of its people don’t have access to potable water.
He said that the company Asia Bana, which has the contract works on the second phase of the dam had poor experience.
But Mohammad Nabi Mohib, director water management, said his department faced with lack of funds last year and the Ministry of Finance did not release the amount he needed.
He said 65 percent funds had been released to contractors while 80 percent construction work of the second portion of Kamal Khan Dam had been completed.
According to Mohib, the period of contract was two years starting from 2012, however, the target could not be achieved in the given period due to financial problems and the contract had to be extended for four to six months.
Referring to completion of Kamal Khan Dam and its power generation capacity, the official said that things would set in motion upon the availability of direly needed funds.
On Saturday, Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi during his speech to the lawmaker said Kamal Khan Dam was a project of national importance and the government was striving to complete the vital project at the earliest.
Some years back, reports were circulating that an insurgent groups backed by neighbouring Iran wanted to halt work on the projects by staging attacks and spreading insecurity in the area. But successful bidding of the project and start of work proved the claims to be wrong.
Also the residents of Kang district acknowledged Iran had been involved in illegal supply of Hirmand River water into Iranian territory.
Haji Nabi Jan, a resident of the locality, said Iranians have dug eight wells on the bank of the river from Lashkari locality till Sar Shela and established 73 water pumps for water supplying.
He complained about non availability of drinking water in the area by saying the underground water had salty and people bought Iranian mineral water or the residents supplied drinking water from the far-flung areas.
Earlier, Asadullah Zamir, the newly appointed minister pledged to improve water management system by constructing small dams and building other projects.
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