India Will Help Afghanistan Build Contentious Shahtoot Dam

4 Mar 2021 by The Water Diplomat
KABUL, Afghanistan

The government of India has signed a $236 Million USD deal to build the Shahtoot Dam in Kabul which will provide fresh drinking water for roughly 2 million residents and support irrigation efforts across Afghanistan.

The Pakistan government continues to express concern about Shahtoot River interventions that will reduce water flow into their country by 16 to 17 percent. Dismissing such claims, Afghanistan argues that the Maidan river on which the dam will be built, contributes to less than 0.5 Percent of the Kabul River water flow at the Dhaka trans-boundary station.

India's funding was announced during a 9 February virtual summit between India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, with representatives from both parties signing an MoU.

Remarking on increasing droughts, rising population rates and a 60 Percent drop in rain and snowfall reported in 2018 in Kabul, President Ghani vowed to make efforts to improve water infrastructure and management in the capital city a national priority, with efforts largely directed towards the Shahtoot Dam initiative.

The Shahtoot project is scheduled to be completed in six years and will be built along the Kabul river basin. The dam is expected to measure 92 metres in height, with the capacity to hold 146 million cubic metres of water which will allow for the irrigation of 4,000 hectares of land across the country.

President Ghani thanked India for “offering this gift of water” and stressed the importance of the relationship between the two countries, stating: “India has always supported Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-supported initiatives. Unified Afghanistan can fight any calamities. Success of Afghanistan is the all-around success of India."

The signing of the agreement came just one day after India sent more than 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines to support the fight against the pandemic in Afghanistan.