KABUL, Afghanistan

Hailing it as a project that can transform the country, Afghanistan’s president on Wednesday inaugurated a dam on the border with Iran, nearly six decades after its inception.

President Ashraf Ghani, who came to power with promises of improving the mountainous country’s water management, opened the Kamal Khan Dam in the southwestern Nimroz province.

Located on the Helmand River in the Chahar Burjak district of Nimroz, the Kamal Khan Dam was planned in the 1960s.

However, decades of war in Afghanistan and Iran’s opposition to the project hindered its completion until Ghani made it a priority in 2017.

The president said the dam’s proximity to Iran’s Chabahar port would uplift and transform the economy of Nimroz and the whole of Afghanistan.

“The economies of Iran and Afghanistan are dependent on one another, not in competition with each other,” he stressed.

He urged the Taliban to embrace peace and take part in efforts for Afghanistan’s development.

Ghani also laid floral wreaths at a memorial set up at the dam for security personnel killed while guarding the important project.

According to government figures, the dam has been attacked at least 35 times in the past two years and 39 guards were killed in the assaults.

‘Food basket of Afghanistan’

The Kamal Khan Dam will help irrigate some 175,000 hectares of land and generate up to nine megawatts of electricity, according to the country’s National Water Affairs Regulation Authority.

It has the potential to “transform the barren land of Nimroz into the food basket of Afghanistan,” the agency’s chief, Khan Mohammad Takal, said at the inauguration.

With a capacity of over 50 million cubic meters, the Kamal Khan Dam is now the second largest in the west of the country, after the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam, also known as Salma Dam, in the neighboring Herat province.

The final phase of the dam’s construction was done by an Afghan-Turkish company at an estimated cost of $78 million.

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