By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: A special combat unit of Afghan security forces has started operation to stabilize Afghanistan’s war-ravaged provinces involving a major gas pipeline project, an official said Monday.
Construction work of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project in Afghan territory was inaugurated in February 2018.
However, less works has been done in Afghanistan terrain so far as security issue over the construction and maintenance of the line has remained big concerns.
“The formation of the new security unit is part of government efforts to provide security for the Highway One crossing from Delaram district, Nimroz province to Maiwand district, Kandahar province onward to Greshk district in the neighboring Helmand province,” Omar Zwak, Helmand provincial government spokesman said.
The TAPI pipeline is expected to pass through five Afghan provinces, namely Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand and Kandahar. “The 700-member combat unit, tasked to provide security for TAPI project, was formed two months ago, but the unit started operation a couple of days ago,” Zwak added.
The official noted that “although, work on the TAPI project has not still practically started, the unit has begun the hard-duty and already managed to ensure enormous change in the security of most parts of Helmand province.”
The project will transfer the natural gas of Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India through Afghanistan. The TAPI pipeline project, which was expected to be completed by 2019, was inaugurated by leaders of the four involving countries in January 2016.
The project work on the Turkmenistan section has reportedly been completed, but on its section of Afghanistan it failed, due to rising insecurity.
“In the past, scattered conflicts have erupted along the highway between the two provinces, in the south but the situation has now changed since the formation and deployment of the rapid reaction unit,” said the official.
TAPI project, according to officials, would transport 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Galkynysh gas reserve of Turkmenistan annually along the 1,800 km-long route to Fazilka near the border with Pakistan in northern India.
Afghanistan would earn 500 million U.S. dollars as royalty each year from TAPI project, according to Afghan officials.
According to Afghan observers, implementation of TAPI project would also provide job opportunities for more than 10,000 people in Afghanistan.