HERAT, Afghanistan, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Afghan government has beefed up security ahead of the inauguration of a major gas project in western city of Herat, local media reported Tuesday.
Afghan leaders and foreign guests from regional countries will participate in the groundbreaking ceremony of the mega project which will mark start of the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline Project in the Afghan terrain.
Police personnel have been deployed in all sensitive areas of the city, 640 km west of Kabul. They are strictly checking all vehicles entering the city, reported local on-line media News Vim.
The construction of the first phase of the major project that takes Turkmenistan gas into Pakistan and India through Afghanistan has reportedly been completed on Turkmenistan's soil.
Local observers and ordinary Afghans have been looking with optimism towards the TAPI and supporting it as a "national project".
A breakaway group of the Taliban insurgents has also announced its support to the development project.
Leader of his own faction of the Taliban outfit, Mullah Rasul Akhund, whose men are operating in western Afghan region and challenging Taliban main faction leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has reportedly stated that his men will do whatever they can to provide security for the TAPI project.
Abdul Manan Niazi, a deputy to Rasul Akhund told local journalists that the project is "a national project and people of Afghanistan are obliged to support it."
According to Niazi, the supporters of Rasoul Akhund have been "working hard to convince people to support the TAPI project," saying it is a national project and all people will benefit from it.
TAPI is one of the biggest projects in the region which transits gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. According to the initial agreement, Afghanistan will get about 500 million U.S. dollars as royalty every year, and it is believed that more than 10,000 Afghans will have job opportunities to work in the construction of the project as well as providing security for it.
The ceremony is expected to be held within coming days.
According to officials, the TAPI pipeline, once completed, is expected to export up to 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to the three neighboring countries over the next 30 years.
At the same ceremony, the Turkmenistan railway network will also be linked to Torghondi township in Herat, and the power substation of Guzara district of the province is also expected to be inaugurated, according to local officials.