With construction halted, Herat's Pashdan Dam faces uncertain future

By Omar

Construction of Pashdan Dam in Herat province has been halted since the fall of the previous government last August, leaving the fate of the project up in the air. Pashdan Dam, one of the largest infrastructure projects of Afghanistan, stands in Karukh district, 25km east of Herat city. [Omar/Salaam Times]

HERAT -- Construction of Pashdan Dam in Herat province has come to a halt since the fall of the previous government in August, leaving the fate of the project up in the air.

Pashdan Dam, one of the largest infrastructure projects of Afghanistan, is situated in Karukh district, 25km east of Herat city.

The hydroelectric dam was scheduled for completion by the end of 2021. However, work has been suspended on the project, and the dam is only 85% finished.

Work on the reservoir wall, water canals and sites to install power turbines was complete and the dam was ready for water intake, according to dam officials.

Pashdan Dam is seen January 12. Construction work halted after the collapse of the Afghan government last August. [Omar/Salaam Times]

Pashdan Dam is seen January 12. Construction work halted after the collapse of the Afghan government last August. [Omar/Salaam Times]

The project has been stalled by delays in payments to the construction company and a lack of response from the National Water Affairs Regulation Authority (NWARA), Abdul Saboor Naderi, the director of procurement of the Pashdan Dam project, told Salaam Times.

"Some canals of the dam were damaged by flooding last week," he added. "If water intake does not start soon, more canals and parts of the dam will be destroyed by water."

"All equipment including stop gates have arrived in Herat from India and are waiting to be installed," he said. "But there is no official in the government to co-ordinate the process of water intake and installation of dam turbines."

Hundreds of workers, including several Indian nationals, have lost their jobs because of the work stoppage and have gone home, Naderi said.

Pashdan Dam in Herat has so far cost $117 million. It is capable of generating two megawatts of electricity, storing 45 million cubic metres of water and irrigating 13,000 hectares of land.

Construction of the national project began in 2011.


Expectations were that Pashdan Dam would be inaugurated soon, said Basir Ahmad Khwajazada, a resident of Herat city.

"It is very painful to see construction of the dam stop," he said. "We looked forward to benefiting from the dam's water and electricity, but the current situation is disappointing."

"The construction of hydroelectric dams such as Pashdan is critical," he added. "The Afghan economy will further weaken, and Afghans will suffer even more if serious and practical efforts are not made in this regard."

Much frustration and disappointment will ensue if construction of Pashdan Dam does not resume, said Jalil Ahmad Karimi, a saffron farmer in Herat province.

The intake of water into Pashdan Dam should start in winter when there is enough water, he said. Otherwise, water will flow out of Afghanistan and no water will be available for another year.

"When construction of the dam was going well two years ago, we leased government lands near the dam to grow saffron," Karimi said.

"People are disappointed about many things. We hope that the inauguration of Pashdan Dam will address some of the disappointment," he added.

Infrastructure projects, including Pashdan Dam, gave Afghans great hope, but the suspension of work on the dam has disappointed them, especially farmers, said Mohammad Asif Nazari, a resident of Herat city.

"The suspension of the construction of Pashdan Dam and uncertainty about its future are a major blow to the Afghan economy since much money was invested in this project," he said.

The suspension of infrastructure projects has forced young Afghans to go to neighbouring countries for work, he added.

An uncertain future

Pashdan Dam is not the only infrastructure project in Afghanistan that has been put on hold.

It is very painful to see no reconstruction going on anywhere in Afghanistan, said Javed Nazari, a resident of Herat.

"It is very hard to accept that until a few months ago, hundreds of development projects were under way across the country and thousands of people were busy working on these projects," he added.

"But now there is deadly silence everywhere and no reconstruction and development work anywhere."

The suspension of infrastructure projects has led to the collapse of the country's economy and its population, said Mohammad Azim Kawosh, an economist in Herat city.

"Many infrastructure projects are incomplete. If they are not completed soon, the work done so far will be lost too and Afghanistan will never be able to rebuild them," he said.

"The impact of the current economic collapse due to the halt of development projects will affect the country's economy for years to come and will be very difficult to recover from," he added.

"Work on these projects is heavily dependent on foreign aid, while there are no plans internally to continue these infrastructure projects either," Kawosh said.

He called on the international community to take over the management of Afghanistan's infrastructure projects to avoid wasting its previous investments.

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I read your website's analytic reports from time to time. You usually choose good topics and present them in detail. Although Afghanistan is one Afghanistan, and we love it, Afghanistan is not just Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif; Afghanistan includes Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Ghazni, Paktia, Nangarhar, Kunar, and all other provinces, while you often publish reports on Herat and the northern regions. Please write to us about other places, including Kabul, especially those provinces left out of the media coverage. Long live Afghanistan and freedom of the media.


Iran has been using the water flowing from the western region of Afghanistan for decades. Iran makes extensive use of Helmand's water. With the help of Japanese specialists, Iran has built systems on its soil that store water from the Helmand River. In Iran, these reservoirs are called semi-wells, and they have stored one billion cubic meters of water, which has turned the arid provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan green. These Iranian water projects have caused the Chakhansur district of Nimroz province in Afghanistan to become waterless.


People in Afghanistan talk more about Pakistan and Iran when it comes to the issue of water. Tajikistan, which shares a water border with Afghanistan, has benefited unilaterally from the waters of the Amu Darya River. Tajikistan is a power-producing country, and Afghanistan imports electricity. Tajikistan has built a power plant on the Amu Darya River between Afghanistan and Tajikistan worth about $3 billion, making Tajikistan an exporter of electricity in Central Asia. In addition, two other neighboring countries in the north of Afghanistan use Afghanistan's water independently. Ninety percent of Aral Lake's water comes from the Amu Darya. The lake is a significant source of clean water to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The Karakoram Canal also enters Turkmenistan from the Amu Darya River. The Karakoram Canal has met dry Turkmenistan's water needs, and Afghanistan is dependent on Turkmenistan for food and agricultural supplies. Uzbekistan has built a dam in Surkhan province called Torpalang to raise water from the Amu Darya River. Uzbekistan has also made another canal, Bukhara, which takes water from the Amu Darya River. To be continued


There was a woman who had many children. Another woman had one child. Once the fight broke between the two. The mother of one child told the other one that she has many children. She answered that you also have pussy. Your pussy is not covered with mud, so you can also bear more children. The point is that Tajikistan uses the water of the Amu River. Why don't our people do so? Have the Tajiks stopped our people? No. Our people are at war, fighting. Do you know who they are fighting for? They fought the war against Russia to defend the interests of Americans and Pakistanis, and then they fought against the Americans for the benefits of China, Russia, and Pakistan. One and a half million people were killed in Afghanistan in the first war, and hundreds of thousands more were maimed, widowed, orphaned, displaced, and missing. At the same time, the privileges went to America as their enemy Soviet Union was broken. They owned nuclear and other weapons to Pakistan and stole billions of dollars that came to Mujahedeen.
In the second war, suffrage happened to Afghans again, while the privileges went to Pakistan, and America was clever enough to rescue itself. Anyway, instead of pointing the finger at others, it is better to focus on our work, make relations with the world, and strengthen ties with Western countries, including America. Else, neither China nor Russia provides free aid to anyone.


In the last years of the former king of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah, and the presidential era of Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan, steps were taken to control and manage Afghanistan's water, taking into account the possibilities and capabilities available. During the last decade of the reign of Mohammad Zahir Shah, water control was in full swing as Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan launched a white coup d'etat. Later on, the water control was given special consideration as the Saur coup d'etat occurred, and the efforts remained incomplete. The unrest and war in Afghanistan over the past 43 years and the efforts of Afghanistan's neighbors kept the situation in Afghanistan at war for a long time so that they could easily take advantage of Afghanistan's water and complete important works in their own countries. Over the past four decades, Afghanistan's neighbors, particularly Iran and Pakistan, have taken advantage of Afghanistan's water in violation of all international water rights and principles. The Kabul River has enriched Pakistan with wheat and bananas. Afghanistan could not irrigate its fallow lands and agricultural lands due to water scarcity.


Taliban have released the water of Kamal Khan dam to Iran, and then they rudely say that they have released the water not to Iran but the farms of Nimoriz Province. Iranian authorities thanked the Taliban for releasing the water to that country. Anyone who is Afghan will criticize the Taliban for such dealings. The Taliban authorities have to explain this because Iranians martyred many Afghan army soldiers (during the presidential era) who kept this dam's security. This dam is built with the cost of Afghans' blood. Afghanistan's own budget is spent on building this dam which includes the right of widows, orphans and other Afghans; however, now the water of Kamal Khan dam is released to Iran for free. President Mohmmad Ashraf Shahi (Mercy to Allah upon him) stated that he would give water for oil to Iran. However, the coward Taliban freed it and proved that their Punjabi color (cowardice) has no sympathy with Afghanistan.


Yes sure. Pashdan dam is an important project in the South Western region of Afghanistan that will irrigate a large amount of land in Herat province. Families and industries will get advantages of the electric power generated there, which will bring a significant change in the life of Herat's residents.


Water and electricity dams are a country's essential and unparalleled infrastructures. Years before, there was a conflict between Pakistan and India. India said it would give a hard blow to Pakistan in the upcoming days. People thought they might invade Pakistan with arms; however, days later, India announced that they would build a water and electricity dam over a river whose water was flowing for free to Pakistan. Indians are very clever people. They knew that they could prevent the terror that the Pakistani terrorist army committed on their territory this way. Whoever they are, Afghans should use this same instrument against Iran and Pakistan when they are in power. Complete the Kamal Khan dam, complete the Pashdan dam, construct the Bakhshabad dam of Farah, build dams on the Kunar river, and prevent the satanic policies of Iranian and Pakistani terrorist countries.