Ahead of Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai's visit to India, the government today cleared another tranche of development aid to the tune of Rs540 crore to be given to the war-torn country where such help has earlier directly benefited local communities.
The Union cabinet, at a meeting chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh, approved the third phase of the Small Development Projects (SDP) to be implemented across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
Under the first two phases of the SDP, India has built a number of basic health clinics, schools, and children's hospitals and dug borewells across the border provinces of Afghanistan.
The SDP directly affects local communities, supports social-economic development and facilitates community life through the creation of infrastructure in various sectors like education, health, and agriculture, finance minister P Chidambaram told reporters here.
"Local communities of Afghanistan would directly benefit from the Small Development Projects which will cover all 34 provinces of Afghanistan," he said.
The SDP was earlier implemented in two phases — the first in July 2006 comprising 50 projects worth US $11,216,179; and the second in June 2008 comprising 51 projects worth US $8,579,537.
With a $2.3 billion aid programme, India is among the larger donors to Afghanistan, investing in the economy, humanitarian aid, education, development, construction and electrical projects.