Three months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a new Parliament building in Afghanistan, he had pushed to release more funds for the project, which had missed several deadlines.
Accordingly, the Foreign Ministry started working to provide an extra Rs 500 crore towards the Afghan Parliament and Salma Dam — flagship projects of democracy and development in Afghanistan.
Nudged by Modi himself, the Ministry of External Affairs in November circulated a Cabinet proposal to raise the outlay provision for the Parliament to Rs 969 crore from Rs 710 crore (approved in June 2014) with the assurance of timely completion before December 31.
Sources said the Parliament project was reviewed by the PM at the monthly Pragati meeting in October, where he agreed to release more funds.
The project, inaugurated by the Prime Minister on Friday, began in 2009 and had missed several deadlines.
At the Pragati meeting, the PM also approved extra funds for the Salma Dam multipurpose project, despite some objections by the Department of Expenditure. Earlier this week, the Union Cabinet approved the expenditure.
In January 2013, the project cost was revised to Rs 1,457.56 crore, with a completion target of December 2014. The new deadline for the commercial operation has been fixed for June 2016.
The dam was initiated in 2004 at an expenditure of Rs 351.87 crore but could not take off in a big way due to widespread strife in Afghanistan. In June 2010, the cost was revised to Rs 800 crore.
A major portion of the work has been completed with the closure of a diversion tunnel gate last July followed by filling of the reservoir.