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Iran Plans to Send Gas to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China via New Gas Pipeline

Thursday 12 April 2012

(Trend news agency) – Iran intends to export gas to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China, Iranian Ambassador to Tajikistan Aliasgar Sherdust told Trend on Wednesday.

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The name for Central Asia in classical Islamic texts is Mawaraunnahr, which means Transoxiana (the land in between the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers), or, literally, the land on the other side of the Oxus River, the classical name used by Islamic geographers for the Persian name Amu Darya River. While Arab armies who conquered the region in the 8th century imagined it in terms of water boundaries, later conquerors paid less heed to water. Before Genghis Khan invaded and ravaged Central Asia in the 13th century, the Zerafshan Valley (زرافشان) in modern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had what may have been the most advanced irrigation system in the world. Mogul’s legacy is alive in Central Asia today. Bad irrigation practices are likely the single biggest water management problem in contemporary Central Asia. The consequences of a lack of coordination of irrigation systems, soil degradation, and out-of-basin transfers are the principal water problems in Central Asia.

“According to the agreement reached by the heads of Tajikistan, Iran and Afghanistan in Dushanbe, a pipeline from Iran to Tajikistan through Afghanistan and further to Kyrgyzstan and China will be built,” said Sherdust. He noted that two weeks ago the presidents of Iran and Afghanistan visited Tajikistan and at a joint meeting, among other things, discussed the issue of gas exports from Iran. The ambassador said the sides have been for several years discussing the implementation of projects on transportation of electricity and water, and finally, following negotiations of the three countries a document on this issue was signed.

The President of Tajikistan appealed to Iran for help in connection with the difficult situation caused by the gas shortage in the country, the diplomat said. The pipeline, an intention on the construction of which was confirmed by signing this document, will be used for the transportation of energy carriers, the ambassador said. The parties plan also to build a pipeline to transport water from Tajikistan to Iran via Afghanistan.

After Sherdust, the three countries also agreed to improve roads and railways, as well as construct a system for the exchange of electricity between Iran and Tajikistan. The ambassador noted that in the spring and summer Tajikistan has surpluses of electricity, while in the winter there is surplus of electricity in Iran. The new system for the exchange of electricity will enable the two countries to exchange electricity surpluses.

The ambassador said that according to studies, Tajikistan uses effectively only 5% of the water resources while the remaining 95% goes from Tajikistan to neighboring countries.

Competition for water is increasing in Central Asia at an alarming rate. Agriculture is the mainstay of the region’s economy, and thirsty crops such as cotton and rice require intensive irrigation. Water use has increased rapidly since the Central Asian states became independent in 1991 and is now at an unsustainable level. Irrigation systems have decayed so severely that half of all water never reaches crops, and several years of drought have cut available water by a fifth even as demand continues to soar. Efforts to rebuild Afghanistan will now put yet more strain on supplies.

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