From Infrastructure to education, India’s $2-billion role in Afghanistan

Last September, the two countries agreed to initiate an ambitious and forward-looking ‘New Development Partnership’, according to which India agreed to take up 116 high-impact community development projects to be implemented in 31 provinces of Afghanistan.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: May 7, 2018 8:06:37 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani jointly inaugurating the Afghan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam), in Heart, Afghanistan. (Source: PIB/File)

THE ABDUCTION of seven Indians on Sunday has brought attention to India’s projects in Afghanistan, which have crossed $2 billion in the last 16 years.

Last September, the two countries agreed to initiate an ambitious and forward-looking ‘New Development Partnership’, according to which India agreed to take up 116 high-impact community development projects to be implemented in 31 provinces of Afghanistan, including in the fields of education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, sports infrastructure and administrative infrastructure.

Sources told The Indian Express that the new Indian ambassador to Afghanistan, Vinay Kumar, has been in touch with the Afghan authorities to push forward these projects.

“Bilateral development cooperation is a key pillar of the strategic partnership, and positive impact of the projects implemented under the $2 billion development and economic assistance extended by India to Afghanistan has contributed towards social, economic, infrastructure and human resource development in the country,” said a South Block source.

According to officials, the new projects are:
* Shahtoot dam and drinking water project for Kabul that would also facilitate irrigation.
* Low cost housing for returning Afghan refugees in Nangarhar province to promote resettlement.
* Road connectivity to Band-e-Amir in Bamyan province that would promote tourism to the national park and economic development.
* Water supply network for Charikar city in Parwan province.
* Establishment of a gypsum board manufacturing plant in Kabul to promote value added industry.
* Construction of a polyclinic in Mazar-e-Sharif.
* Development of communication infrastructure (optic fibre) and Surobi 2 hydropower plant with capacity of 180 MW.

Besides these new projects, there are some ongoing projects as well. These include:
* Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health (IGICH): India has been supporting IGICH since its inception, the reconstruction was done with Indian government’s assistance in 2002 ($6 million). Medical equipment worth Rs 17.16 cr has already been delivered and installed. Another $1 million has been provided to IGICH, Kabul, to be utilised over the next five years for routine maintenance, setting up additional facilities, and training of doctors, nurses, paramedics & technical staff of the hospital.
* Construction of a decentralised waste water treatment system along with necessary sewage system.
* Habibia High School, Kabul: After reconstruction of the school at a cost of $5.1 million, India has been supporting the school by way of upgradation of facilities, training of teachers.
* Contribution to Afghan Red Crescent Society: India contributes $1 million annually to the programme to treat children suffering from congenital heart disease over a period of next five years.
* Establishment of Afghan Mining Institute in Kabul: Based on the Afghanistan government’s request, India is providing technical and financial assistance.
* Afghan National Agriculture Sciences and Technology University (ANASTU) was established with Indian government’s financial & technical assistance.

Besides these government-funded projects, Aptech, a private firm, is providing IT training for Afghan youth in the country.

Among the Indian companies doing business in Afghanistan, mostly in the power sector, are KEC (electrical transmission lines), Phoenix (consultancy in electrical transmission), AIPL (establishment of hydropower project in Helmand province), Gammon India (power transmission line & power sub-stations), KPTL (power transmission line). Besides, aviation firm SpiceJet is also active in Afghanistan.

Sources said India has played a “significant role” in the reconstruction and rehabilitation process in Afghanistan.

Officials said that India’s extensive developmental assistance programme is a “strong signal of its abiding commitment to peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.” This makes India one of the leading donor nations to Afghanistan and by far the largest donor in the region.

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