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The Killid Group

Iran-Afghanistan Spar Over Dam

Written by Mohammad Reza Gulkohi
Sunday, 25 September 2011 10:56

Iran-Afghanistan Spar Over Dam Is there a water war brewing with Iran? Recently, Iranian officials voiced their concern that the Kamal Khan dam in Nimroz is eating into their share of water from the Helmand river.
The head of the environmental protection organisation in Iran told the Iranian National Council on Sep. 12 the Hamon river was at risk of drying. "We face environmental tragedy in Hamon river due to water decrease in Helmand in Afghanistan," he was quoted saying.
Before this the Afghan consulate in Mashhad in a letter Aug. 3 had written to the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Ahmed Ali Kikhah, representative of Zabul province in the Iranian National Council had expressed his concern about the impact on their share of water as a result of the start of construction on the Kamal Khan Dam. Iran's right to use water from the Helmand rivers should not be ignored, the letter said. Kikhah is in charge of the Agricultural Commission in the Iranian parliament.
The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs had forwarded the Iranian letter to the Ministry of Water and Energy, and asked for a follow up on the case. The Helmand river has always been a bone of contention between the two countries.
Hamid Qazwani, director of Sistan and Baluchistan Water Company has said that under a water sharing agreement signed by Iran and Afghanistan in 1972 Afghanistan has to annually allow 820 million cubic metres of water to flow to Iran. Afghanistan has been ignoring the Iranian right claiming there was a drought.

Strain on bilateral ties
The water dispute has cast a shadow on relations between Kabul and Tehran.
Officials in the Ministry of Water and Energy say,  "The Iranian objections are incorrect and inappropriate. The construction of the Kamal Khan dam is a right for Afghanistan."
Under the 1972 treaty signed by the prime ministers of both countries Afghanistan has to release 26 cubic metres of water per second during years of flood and less than 1 cubic metre during years of drought...
Habibullah Rafe, a researcher and member of the Academy of Science, says: "Ministry of Foreign Affairs before sending this letter to Ministry of Water and Energy, should have based its response on the treaty signed between the two countries in 1351." According to him, this would enable the authorities to submit a "logical and appropriate response" to Iran.
The foreign affairs ministry has taken the letter from Tehran as an information sharing exercise. Janan Musazai, spokesman in the ministry, says: "Afghanistan is committed to abiding by the articles 2, 3 and 4 of the 1972 treaty..."
About the construction of the Kamal Khan dam, he says: "Water remaining in Helmand River is national asset of Afghanistan, and according to Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of this treaty, Afghanistan can use this water in any way."

Rapid desertification
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Water and Energy has chosen to remain silent about the contents of the letter from the foreign ministry. Mohammad Ismael, the spokesman, was circumspect, and chose only to say, "Iran is concerned but the situation right now is that there is no potable water for the people of Nimroz province… People are getting water to drink through an approximately 5 inch pipe from Iran." Iran is sending water back to their neighbours in Nimroz through a pipe.
For years, Nimroz's farmers have been complaining that all the water from the Helmand river drains into Iran, leaving their fields dry while farmers in neighbouring Zabul province prosper.
Pir Mohammad and Hafizullah from Ferozagi and Chakhansor districts in Nimroz are two farmers who claim their lands have turned into desert. "Thousands of acres of agricultural land, as a result of sand storms and drought, have changed into desert."
The Ministry of Water and Energy believes the Kamal Khan dam will green the arid province. "Constructing a dam on Helmand River is Afghanistan's right, and we will construct it."

Trading charges
Work on the dam was meant to follow a survey undertaken during the years of the Mohammad Daoud Khan regime. But following a coup in 1973, the project was put in cold storage. Now work has restarted on Aug. 10, nearly 28 years later. Officials are hopeful of completing the dam in one year.
Iran, however, may be trying to put a hammer in the works, according to Colonel Mohammad Ghaws Malyar, security commander in chief of Farah police. He told Killid that security forces arrested a Talib commander called Haideri who had confessed to being equipped by Iran to "create disturbance" at the dam construction site.
Haideri admitted, "Iran supported him and Iran had ordered him to create disturbance against construction of Kamal Khan dam," Colonel Malyar claimed. The war of words is getting dirtier!

Comments (1)

  • Saturday, 22 September 2012 03:43 | H.Sultani
    iranians are wrong and it mote than 30 years the taking all water of helmand rive and trying to prevent for constructing the kamal khan dam .they want to use all waters of river them self.

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