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Salma dam nears completion, Afghans thank India

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Kabul: People in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat were on Tuesday full of praise for India for its key role in the reconstruction of the nation, especially construction of the Salma dam which is nearing completion and whose reservoirs have started filling up with the much-needed water.

Photo credit: www.snipview.com
Photo credit: www.snipview.com

A group of grateful residents went to the Indian consulate there and expressed their gratitude to the Indian officials for the key role played by India in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, particularly the Salma dam- the biggest project by the Indian government in the country.

Local musicians sang Indian songs and presented flowers to workers of the consulate.

India is spending $300 million on the dam project, expected to produce 42 MW of electricity and water nearly 80,000 hectares of farmland, according to Afghan news agency Khaama Press.

The reservoir, which is 20 km in length and 3 km in width, started filling up last month and is expected to be completed in around 9-12 months.

The reconstruction of Salma dam started during the tenure of Sardar Mohammad Dawoud Khan decades ago, but the project was halted because of the war in the country.

The project was restarted in 2005 and is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

The hydroelectric and irrigation project is being constructed on the Hari Rud river in Chiste Sharif district.

It is the flagship infrastructural project of India’s developmental assistance program to Afghanistan.

The project includes construction of a 107.5-metre-high and 550-metre-long rock-filled dam and other typical components of the hydroelectric power project such as spillways, powerhouse, switchyard, and transmission line.

The dam is of immense importance to Afghanistan and will be greatly beneficial in solving the issue of electricity generation in the country.

The dam construction faced some tough times. According to a statement by the Consul General of India in Herat, the dam faced many logistical constraints and security challenges contributing to a delay of many years.

Salma dam was initially built in 1976 on the Hari river basin, but was damaged during the war in Afghanistan. The rebuilding of the dam was first started by an Indian company (WAPCOS Ltd.) in 1988, but the project was left incomplete for a significant period of time due to the instability caused by the war.

In 2006, India committed to funding the completion of the dam at an estimated cost of $200 million, said Outlook Afghanistan.

Afghan leaders and people have welcomed the news that major portion of the work was completed, and they expect that insecurity and political situation will not hamper the remaining work.

Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah last week expressed satisfaction with the completion of parts of the long-awaited dam.

The dam, he hoped, would help resolve the problem of shortage of energy and power besides strengthening the agriculture sector in the western zone.

Earlier, India’s Consul General Amit Kumar Mishra said the project passed a critical stage on July 26 with the closure of the diversion tunnel gate and the start of filling of the reservoir.

“India has been very supportive to Afghanistan as far as economic growth and the infra-structure development are concerned. The people of Afghanistan consider India as a friend and always appreciate its help. India at the same time has kept on assisting Afghanistan in different development projects and Salma dam is just another example in the same regard,” said Outlook Afghanistan.

(IANS)

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

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Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)