India suffers from lack of transit facilities in Afghanistan

April 23rd, 2008 - 10:24 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) India’s reconstruction programme for Afghanistan is bogged down not just by security concerns. The biggest logistical challenge is to supply equipment to its projects, in the absence of direct transit routes through Pakistan. “The issue of (lack of) Pakistan transit dominates our entire programme,” said T.C.A. Raghavan, the external affairs ministry’s joint secretary in charge of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

Raghavan was delivering the keynote address at a two-day seminar on “Reconstruction Process in Afghanistan” here Wednesday.

Raghavan gave the example of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd’s (BHEL) difficulties in transporting its equipment to build sub-stations for a transmission line from Kabul to the Uzbekistan border.

Earlier, with Pakistan refusing transit for Indian goods, BHEL had planned to ship heavy equipment from India to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and then transport them by road.

“(But) due to a deterioration (in) security (situation) in pockets, the road option became difficult to use,” he said.

The company had to then airlift its equipment, which weigh nearly 100 tonnes each, to the construction area.

“I have been told that this may be the largest airlift of its kind. But this makes (the reconstruction programme) much more difficult, but we have to deal with it,” he said.

Security concerns continue to dog foreign workers in Afghanistan. This week an Indian working with an Afghan-Canadian logistics company was kidnapped.

“We have been given a lot of assistance by the Afghan government, but we are also aware of the risks,” he said.

India has committed $850 million dollars towards reconstruction programme in Afghanistan, with special emphasis on infrastructure and capacity building.

“Capacity building is important as these programmes have to be self-sustained by Afghans in the future,” he said.

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