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Published:July 8th, 2006 05:11 EST
Afghan district dedicates new micro-hydro plant and governce center

Afghan district dedicates new micro-hydro plant and governce center

By Joe Campbell

PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Governor Haji Bahlol and provincial leaders dedicated a new micro-hydro power station and governance facility at separate ceremonies in the Shutol District here June 28.

The two projects, which have an important link, are provincial reconstruction team initiatives undertaken at the request of the governor. The governor is the lead agent for all reconstruction projects in the province and the PRT works closely with him to be responsive to his priorities.

“The micro-hydro power plant provides the electricity for the new Shutol District Center where there will be a law office and offices for the district manager, director of administration and police chief,” said Governor Bahlol.

The 9,000 sq. ft. facility is known by some as the flagship project for the district.

“The Shutol District Center is one of the first projects a traveler will notice while coming into the valley and it is quite a value at a cost of about $16 per sq. ft.,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Chris White, Panjshir PRT engineer.

The contractor hired local villagers to do much of the construction which adds a sense of pride and ownership of the facility.

“The opening of a district center is new for us and it will provide good service to the people who needed a meeting place,” said Mr. Sayeed, a resident who served as a Mujahideen general fighting against invading Soviet troops more than 20 years ago.

The Shutol micro-hydro power plant, located along the Panjshir River, not only powers the new district center’s offices from a clean and renewable energy source, but also supplies electricity to the police station and the entrance to the valley, known as Lion’s Gate.

“There were some ‘firsts’ for this area on the micro-hydro project including the use of steel utility poles and porcelain insulators on the cross arms,” Lieutenant White said.

The $90K project also included retaining walls to channel the water to the turbine housed in a small building, utility poles and insulated conductors to distribute the electricity.

“I thank Governor Bahlol for his leadership, partnership and friendship with the PRT,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Neal Kringel, Panjshir PRT commander. “These projects are not only functional, beautiful and welcoming to the Panjshir Valley, but they are yet one more step toward the future and peace for Afghanistan.”