Dahla Dam ready for 2nd phase rehabilitation: official
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Dahla Dam in southern Kandahar province, the second largest in Afghanistan, has been losing 200 million cubic metres (MCM) of water each year due to siltation, an official said on Monday.
Arghandab River Authority head Sher Mohammad Attai told Pajhwok Afghan News during an interview that the dam was 40 kilometres north of Kandahar City, the provincial capital.
The dam was first built 64 years ago during the reign of Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan, with financial support from the United States.
Attai said the dam irrigated agriculture land in seven districts of the province including Shah Wali Kot, Arghandab, Zheri, Panjwai, Maiwand, Dand and Daman.
He said the dam had previously the capacity to store 500 MCM of water, but during the past 64 years, the siltation in the reservoir had resulted in reduction of the storage capacity by 300 MSM.
This was the reason, he said, the dam lost each year 200 MSM of water, depriving farmers of satisfactory irrigation. He said the issue had severely affected the agriculture sector of Kandahar.
Attai said he had repeatedly recommended the construction of a new dam in the same area or raising Dahla Dam’s walls.
He said the new dam would require sufficient budget and therefore Dahla Dam’s rehabilitation was approved in two phases --- technical and raising walls.
He said the first phase, which was launched with $71 million American aid, was 98 percent complete and the rest would be completed over the next three months.
A Turkish firm “77” has launched the reconstruction works that include repairs to canals, replacement of water valves, erecting small gates to improve control over the flow of water supplying to farm fields.
He also mentioned Saifuddin canal to Takhta Pul district, Pashmol canal to Zheri district, the main canal and some works that have either been completed or nearing completion. He said guality of the rehabilitation works had was good and the dam was ready to undertake the second phase.
The official said Dahla Dam’s current walls would be raised by up to eight metres and six supporting dams would also be constructed at a total cost of $308 million to be jointly provided by the Afghan Ministry of Finance ($37 million) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (the rest).
But USAID suspended the project after the Finance Ministry failed to provide the promised $37 million, which was supposed to be used for initial works, Attai said.
The Arghandab River Authority head also mentioned another major project in Kandahar which has been brought to a halt.
The project was 31 kilometres embankment of Arghandab river, a five-year project initiated by the Ministry of Rural Development at a cost $22.3 million.
He said it had been decided that the river’s bed would be 300 metres wide and the banks height would be raised by two metres. But in some areas, residents complained they would lose land to the bed’s expansion, Attai said.
The official said some people in the area had occupied government land and possessed no legal documents, but still they claimed they would lose land to increasing the height of the banks.
Attai said the government should separate public and private land along the Arghandab river to pave the ground for the project’s implementation.
If implemented, he said, the project would not only save water from being wasted but would also protect thousands of acres of land from submerging.
Attai said the Arghandab River Authority was trying to resolve the issue. They planned to manage river water, construct canals, small dams and to gradually enable people to have participation in control and preservation of water resources.
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