DUSHANBE, November 18 (Itar-Tass) —— Tajikistani President Emomali Rakhmon is confident that the settlement of the energy shortage problem depends on the end of the Rogun hydropower plant construction.
While addressing a meeting with scientists dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the National Academy of Sciences, the president said, “In the conditions of the severe energy crisis in our country in the past years, we have no other way to resolve this problem except through the soonest and full construction of the Rogun HPP.”
He is confident that “Tajikistan’s people have the right to use their hydro resources.”
“We have no reserves of oil or gas. About 20 years, the seven-million population of Tajikistan has undergone difficulties triggered by the shortage of electricity, specifically in winter time,” Rakhmon said.
“The republican authorities feel responsible for ending the Rogun HPP project with due account of interests of neighbours,” he said. In addition, Tajikistan’s authorities limited daily electricity supplies to the population to 4-8 hours across the republic in autumns and winters, the president said, reaffirming that such a rule was in effect over past ten years.
The Rogun HPP’s designated capacity is 3,600 megawatts. If it constructed, Rogun will has the world’s highest dam (335 metres tall). Besides, Tajikistan will become one of the world’s highest per capita hydropower producers.
Tashkent has been Rogun’s most adamant opponent. The Uzbek government continues to publish statements and send letters to international donors warning of the dangers the dam poses to regional security. In reality, however, Tashkent is more afraid of an energy-independent Tajikistan that would be able to control water flows to downstream Uzbekistan. To date, Uzbekistan has cut virtually all electricity exchanges with Tajikistan left over from the Soviet period.
The Uzbek government also contracted reports arguing that because of high seismic activity in the area where the Rogun HPP will be constructed, in the event of an earthquake the project threatens to flood residential areas and agricultural fields.
The Rogun HPP will be constructed on the Vakhsh River that supplies only 35 percent of irrigation to Uzbekistan’s cotton fields, while up to 65 percent of water is comes from the Panj River. Importantly, to increase water usage efficiency, Uzbekistan must invest in its own infrastructure. According to expert estimates, due to its dated Soviet infrastructure Uzbekistan loses at least half its irrigation water.
Over the past few years Tajikistan has significantly increased its energy independence. Mostly this is due to the construction of the Sangtuda-1 and Sangtuda-2 HPPs on the Vakhsh River, as well as the construction of power grid lines that connect parts of Tajikistan bypassing Uzbekistan’s territory.
Furthermore, Tajikistan continued to reduce energy losses associated with corruption at local level and poor infrastructure. The latest estimates show that average losses amount to roughly 17 percent of the total energy produced, some ten percent lower compared to a few years ago.