On June 4, India’s Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, inaugurated the 42-MW Afghan-India Friendship hydroelectric project (Salma hydropower project) at Chist-e-Sharif, Herat Province, in Western Afghanistan, according to India’s Ministry of Water Resources (MWR).
The project’s estimated cost is US$290 million, according to published information.
In addition to generating hydropower, Salma is also an irrigation project that is located 165 km east of the town of Herat. It has an earth rockfill embankment dam, which impounds the Hari Rud River, creating a 433,999 acre-feet reservoir. The reservoir will be used to help irrigate 75,000 hectares of farmland, provide water supply and other benefits to Afghanistan.
The project was developed and implemented by Water and Power Consultancy Services (India) Ltd. (WAPCOS), a consultancy organization and public sector undertaking under MWR.
In 1976, WAPCOS began to construct the dam, but the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan halted work on the project. The company, according to MWR, attempted to continue construction on the dam in 1988, but the project was left incomplete again due to the ongoing instability caused by the Afghanistan civil war.
Construction resumed in 2006 and the dam began impounding water in July 2015.