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Indian cos in Afghan not to scale down operations

Anil Sasi
Neha Kaushik

New Delhi , Nov. 24

DOMESTIC firms involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, including Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), C&C Constructions and WAPCOS, have stepped up their guard in the wake of the recent killing of an Indian national by the Taliban. The companies have, however, ruled out any scaling down of activity in the country.

A large number of domestic firms, including L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji, Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India, and TCIL, among others, are engaged in the reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.

PGCIL, which is executing a crucial power transmission link in Afghanistan, is monitoring the situation. "We have sounded out warnings to our employees in Afghanistan. Ensuring security for all Indian nationals is the responsibility of the Afghan administration, but we have asked our employees to be on their guard. There is, however, no question of a pullout," a senior PGCIL official said.

The state-owned company is executing a Rs 479-crore transmission project in the country, which will enable Afghanistan to import power from generating stations located in Uzbekistan to Kabul to bridge the gap in demand and supply. At present, the company has a small presence of officers who are doing the groundwork for the project, but a larger team of engineers and contractors are set to be deployed in Afghanistan shortly. The project is scheduled to be completed by February 2009.

An official from C&C Constructions, which employs about 700 Indians in Afghanistan and primarily works in the area of road development, said that the company was reviewing the security arrangements for its workforce in Afghanistan.

"We will not withdraw our employees from Afghanistan. We have been working in Afghanistan since 2003, and such instances of terrorism cannot cow us down," the official said.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which is building a strategic highway from Afghanistan to Iran, has already asked the local government to strengthen security for its 290 employees in Afghanistan after one of them, M.R. Kutty, was found dead on Wednesday, with the Taliban claiming responsibility for it. BRO, which comes under the Ministry of Defence, is engaged in building the 219-km highway from Delaram in Afghanistan to the Iranian border town of Zaranj.

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