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Tajikistan to Cut Down Financing of Rogun HPP in 2013

Saturday 26 January 2013

DUSHANBE (CA-News) – Tajikistan authorities have revised financing plans of Rogun hydro power plant and cut down the budget by 20.5% for 2013. According to the Ministry of Finances, around 1.1 bln somoni ($230.6 mln) was utilized for the last year, 10% lower than the planned sum.

“Financing volume had been cut down to 946 mln somoni ($198.32 mln) after consultations with the World Bank and Rogun HPP, although the original budget was around 1.2 bln somoni ($251.5 mln),” Tajikistan’s Minister of Finances Safarali Najmiddinov (سفرعلی نجم الدینوف) said. Stock emission of Rogun HPP is temporarily stopped, Safarali Najmiddinov noticed.

The World Bank plans to announce final results of environmental, technical assessments of the project during the first half-year.

In a interview given to RFE/RL, Brahma Chellaney, the author of Water: Asia’s Next Battleground, argues that Asia has less freshwater per capita than any other continent, but is both guzzling and polluting its resources at an ever-increasing rate. Concerning Central Asia, he says:

Water is the most divisive issue in Central Asia. Along with unsettled borders, water has become an even more explosive issue. Because you have in some parts of Central Asia borders that are not clearly demarcated and therefore the issue of water sharing and transnational water resources, their delineation. These issues are compounding the interstate and intrastate competition [and] the struggle for water.

Water is clearly, of all issues, the one that carries the highest risk of destabilizing Central Asia. And also, Central Asia is a very water-scarce region, and therefore the struggle is over scarce resources. The only countries that actually have the water resources are the small upstream countries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, [which are] small and powerless against the main users of water – the countries located downstream: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan.

About the Rogun Dam, Brahma Chellaney thinks:

The Rogun Dam is a Soviet-era enterprise which has been stalled by Uzbek threats against the upstream country [which is Tajikistan]. There’s also the Vakhsh Dam (eds.: Sangtuda hydropower plants) from the Soviet-era that Tajikistan wants to build but the Uzbeks have threatened military reprisals privately and even publicly.

And I think given the fact that Uzbekistan is located downstream, but able to assert its political and military supremacy in the region, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan find themselves hamstrung. They’re not able to embark on projects because the downstream power is unwilling to provide consent, and they’re too afraid to embark on projects on their own.

So I don’t think the Rogun Dam or the Vakhsh Dam will ever be built given the power realities in Central Asia. But if either of the dams were built or both dams were built the downstream flows to Uzbekistan are likely to be affected, and of course every dam has an ecological impact, especially large dams, and these are large dams that were proposed during the Soviet era.

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