Pashdan Dam in Herat. Photo: Social Media

Taliban plans to resume construction of the Pashdan Dam in Herat province

Taliban local authorities in the western Herat province have announced plans to resume the construction of the Pashdan Dam, a mega infrastructure project that was halted amid uncertainty when the Taliban took over in 2021.

Initial work on this hydroelectric dam, located in Karukh district, 25km east of Herat city, began in 2011 and was scheduled for completion by the end of 2021 under the previous government.

The dam has the potential to produce two megawatts of electricity and irrigate nearly 13,000 hectares of agricultural land.

According to Taliban officials, approximately 70 percent of the dam’s construction was completed before August 2021. However, the project was abruptly suspended once the Taliban swept across the country.

Nisar Ahmad Elyas, a Taliban spokesperson in the province, stated on Monday that engineers and construction workers have arrived at the site, and construction work will soon resume to complete the remaining 30 percent following an inauguration ceremony by Taliban officials.

A budget of approximately USD 117 million has been allocated this year for the construction of the dam.

The Pashdan Dam in Herat will be built on the Harirud River, which originates from the Lal-wa-Sarjangal district of Ghor province and passes through Herat province before entering Turkmenistan from the shared border between Afghanistan and its neighboring Iran.

The construction of the Pashdan Dam comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and Afghanistan over water rights. Iran has accused Afghanistan of not preserving its rights over the Helmand River, based on the bilateral water treaty signed in 1973.

The Taliban has denied these accusations, citing low water levels in the Helmand River, which is crucial for Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Balochistan province to sustain its lakes and wetlands.