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Rogun Hydropower Project threatens to whole region – Uzbek Government

Bishkek (AKIpress) - azimov rustam First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov presented position of Uzbekistan on construction of Rogun hydropower plant at a meeting of the representatives of Central Asia in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The meeting was held to discuss key issues of the World Bank's Rogun Assessment Studies, UzDaily reported.

Azimov thus highlighted that Uzbekistan did not participate in previous stages of expertise of the construction of Rogun HPP. Uzbekistan also did not participate in the meetings as it considers that organization of the expertise, selection of consultants, its financing and determining technical tasks and other important parameters does not meet international standards of independence, impartiality, objectiveness, and transparency of assessment of the project.

He criticized the Government of Tajikistan was entrusted to organize bids for the selection of the expertise, financed by the World Bank, despite Tajikistan is interested side in the project. “This fully contradicts commonly accepted norms of taking into account interests of all sides.”

Professional expertise should include assessment of potential negative impact of the project to ecologic balance and water flow regime at Amu Darya river basin, as well as analyses of efficiency of alternative projects to giant project.

The Uzbek side forwarded its opinion to the World Bank, but it was not taken into account and was ignored in published researches.

Uzbekistan had hoped that the World Bank in its work on the project on construction of Rogun would adhere to the basic principles of integrity, transparency, objectivity and international best practice. However, these hopes were not justified. The World Bank ignored large part of reasoned arguments and positions on large-scale technological, environmental, social and economic threats of the Rogun project. There were no answers to key issues raised by Uzbekistan.

The First Deputy Prime Minister recalled that the project of Rogun's construction was developed 44 years ago and it is fully outdated now both on technical approaches and constriction norms, as well as modern standards of environmental safety. He criticized consultants, who did not understand or fully ignored that approaches to construction of such giant establishment.

A concept of calculation of seismic load to buildings, new requirements to seismic modeling, sustainability of dams, etc. were named among the approaches.

The highest dam in the world is being constructed in the area of tectonic break on the huge salt dome, and the project is based on technical and engineering solutions and standards of the last century.

In addition, the construction site is located in high seismic areas. According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, over 250 earthquakes of magnitude 4 or higher and 12 earthquakes of magnitude 6 took place in the area since the beginning of 2013. Researches and assessment show that there is high probability of earthquake of magnitude 9 or higher in the region.

Rustam Azimov underlined that billion tons of water can destruct everything on its way and impact lives of millions of people.

The consultants also did not take into account mudflows. They recommended to construct an anti-mudflow dam with the same parameters of the Rogun dam, which is absurd.

Uzbekistan is unsatisfied with three-year work of the experts, who could not answer to existence of man-caused disaster risks, protection of rights of countries for water in middle and lower streams of Amu Darya, risks to environment of the region, and alternative approaches to problems of energy deficit in Tajikistan in winter period.

Azimov questioned the skills of the World Bank and its consultants to make well-founded conclusions on the project. He added that the plant cannot be constructed on the basis of this expertise.

He also questioned conclusions of the World Bank on preserving water flow of Vakhsh River as Tajikistan changed regime of water flow in summer period. He said that the Rogun dam can accumulate all stock of Vakhsh during lower water season.

If Rogun and Nurek water reservoirs work in energy regime, the deficit of water annually will make up 11.5 cubic km in vegetation period and 6.5 cubic km in a year. Azimov doubted conclusions of the World Bank that the downstream countries will receive additional water in the result of the project implementation. He said that the project would help to dictate the volume of water, which downstream countries will receive.

The decrease of water flow in Amu Darya by 7.4 cubic km a year will mean that the agriculture sector will lose 385,000 hectares of land and the rate can rise to 500,000 hectares in drought period. Over 9,500 farmers can lose their income. The situation can lead to conflict as people without water will be ready for anything to receive access to the water.

The official also noticed that the expertise did not assess impact of the project to one of two largest rivers of Central Asia and downstream countries, as well as its impact on environmental balance of the region, including in Aral Sea Basin, sustainable development of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

It is difficult to assess losses of people, who will have to move to other places in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. He said that Uzbekistan will make huge losses in the result of construction of Rogun hydropower plant. During the winter period, level of Amu Darya will increase and it will create threat to lives of people in downstream countries and destroy buildings, industrial and infrastructure objects.

Rustam Azimov also questioned the project cost. He said that according to researches of Oxford University based on study of all 245 large dams, constructed in last 70 years, the cost of the project rises twice from estimated costs and several times in low income countries.

He said that the cost of construction of Rogun HPP is around $5 billion but the actual cost will make up $10 billion and $15 billion with necessary construction of infrastructure, which exceeds Tajikistan’s GDP twice.

The project thus cannot be implemented as it ignores interests of riparian states and international legislations on use of water resources of transboundary water flows and does not include assessment of its impact to other countries of the region.

The World Bank and consultants accidentally or intentionally, he went on, overlooked that winter electricity shortages in Tajikistan is around 500-600 MW, not 3,600 MW, representing a capacity of Rogun hydropower plant.

The Uzbek experts calculated Tajikistan can produce 30 billion kWh of electricity in cold time with construction of small hydropower plants, which is much higher that the capacity of Rogun and requires less investments.

Furthermore, there are no guarantees that all sides will implement requirements of the UN convention and international law on use of transboundary water resources. He said that the position of the World Bank on the project will result in negative consequences to the region.

Uzbekistan has offered to consider results and conclusions of the assessments as unsatisfactory and insufficient for making competent conclusions on the project.

Azimov also called to analyze alternative variants of overcoming electricity shortage in Tajikistan, including construction of medium and small water reservoirs, expansion and construction of thermal power plants with use of coal, as well as other rational opportunities.

Conclusions of the consultants and experts on Rogun HPP are absolutely unacceptable for Uzbekistan. They only focused their efforts to promote the project, ignoring interests of the population and states located in lower stream of Amu Darya.

Uzbekistan cannot support conclusions of the experts, and will not support the project, Rustam Azimov stressed.


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