India undertaking heaviest airlifting to light up Kabul

May 3rd, 2008 - 4:15 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 3 (IANS) India will begin its heaviest airlifting operations Sunday to transport five mega transformers to Kabul as part of its attempt to provide electricity to the Afghan capital. The air route is being preferred over sea and land to avoid delays and to minimise the risk of the transformers becoming targets of the rejuvenated Taliban militants in Afghanistan.

“We expect to complete our part of the work by October this year,” an Indian official told IANS over telephone from Kabul.

The transformers are for a sub-station in Kabul, which is part of the power transmission project India has undertaken. The Power Grid Corp of India is implementing a $111 million project to set up power transmission lines in Afghanistan.

It involves laying a double-circuit transmission line from Pul-e-Khurmi to Kabul and constructing a 220 KV sub-station in the Afghan capital.

The World Bank and some European countries have undertaken the responsibility of bringing power to Afghanistan from Central Asia. India is carrying out the job of laying the transmission lines and setting up the power sub-station in Kabul.

The airlift, the heaviest India has undertaken so far, will be done aboard AN-124 aircraft, considered the world’s largest transport planes. They can carry up to 120 tonnes of cargo.

The movement of the three 40 MVA transformers will be done May 4, 5 and 7. The two heavier transformers will be carried in separate air operations, later in the month.

Much of the power transmission work India is doing is being carried out in a hostile terrain amid freezing temperatures. In addition, Indian engineers and workers have often been the target of the Taliban militants.

Since Pakistan does not allow India access to Afghanistan through its territory, most Indian goods are sent through ship to Bandar Abbas port in Iran. From there, the goods and materials go to Afghanistan in trucks.

The option of using this route to transport the transformers was ruled out by India because the heavy equipment would make the movement by road extremely slow, delaying the project.

Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), which is responsible for setting up the sub-station in Kabul, wants to complete the work by August.

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