Delaram (South Afghanistan), Jan.22 (ANI): India on Thursday handed over the strategically located Zaranj-Delaram Highway to Afghanistan.
The 215-km-long highway was handed over to the Afghan authorities by visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the presence of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta.
"Completion of the road reflects the determination of both India and Afghanistan that nothing can prevent or hinder collaboration between the two countries," Mukherjee said at a function to mark the handover.
"The completion of the Rs.600 crore project is a message to those who want to stop cooperation between India and Afghanistan. "Our cooperation will not stop," Karzai told reporters.
India agreed to take on the project inspite of stiff resistance from the Taliban. The militants launched frequent attacks on the construction workers in an attempt to force the winding up of the work. A total of six Indians, including a Border Roads Organisation driver and four ITBP soldiers, and 129 Afghans were killed in these attacks.
"Our project personnel did face many challenges in the implementation of the project... in effect one human sacrifice was made for every kilometre and a half constructed," Mukherjee said, describing the completion of the project as "a glowing example" of the India-Afghanistan cooperation.
It will further regional cooperation by encouraging new trade and transit through Iranian ports and a supplementary access of Afghanistan to the sea, he said. (ANI)