Finishing the most crucial part of the undertaking, however -- the massive Roghun dam that was begun last century, during the Soviet era -- will require huge sums of money.
And with promised foreign aid failing to materialize, Tajik leaders have in desperation called on citizens of the impoverished country to help fund the initiative by donating a month's salary.
Nikolai Savchenkov, who was director of the project when it began in the late 1970s, tells RFE/RL that "
Savchenkov says that the project would "solve all economic problems" the country faces. First, it would enable
"Dams around Roghun and the existing Nurek power plant will store enormous amount of water from the Vakhsh [River] over many years," Savchenkov says.
With an abundance of rivers and streams coursing through its mountainous terrain, estimates suggest
Looking to remedy the situation,
generating 3.6 billion kilowatts of electricity a year, Roghun
was to be the most powerful hydroelectric plant in
In 2007 a contract was signed with Russian aluminum giant RusAl to resume the project. But the deal was cancelled due to disagreements over the scale of the project amid strong opposition from neighboring
But a number of countries in the region, including
Public Fund Raising
Now Mahmadsaid Ubaildulloev, the head of the upper chamber of the Tajik parliament, has suggested that if all Tajik workers were to donate one month's salary, this would generate $154 million toward finishing the Roghun project.
That would add to the $130 million the Tajik government has already allocated to fund Roghun's construction in its 2010 budget.
While an estimated $3 billion would be needed to complete the project as originally envisioned, with all six generating units, Tajik leaders are adamant that at least two units can be completed over the next five years using domestic funds.
Earlier this month, President Emomali Rahmon said he was confident that the Tajik people "will do everything they can to help complete" the Roghun project.
Tajik lawmakers have expanded the effort by calling on people to buy shares in Roghun that would be made available for trading on the country's stock market in 2010.
According to Tajik media reports, public-sector workers in some areas have already begun contributing money to the Roghun project, while others, including the Islamic Renaissance Party, have announced their intention to purchase Roghun shares.
'Why Should We Pay?
In a country where the average monthly salary is about $80, not everyone is happy with the prospect of having to donate money to Roghun or obtain its shares.
Kodir Khojaev, a businessman in the northern town of
"Most Tajiks live in poverty and our earnings are hardly enough to buy food," Khojaev says. "Besides, how can I trust the government that it will complete Roghun in five years? We've heard these kinds of empty promises before."
With a gross domestic product per capita of about $1,800,
Khojaev wonders why
"International organizations and financial institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank and others, allocate huge amounts of money to
"Instead of asking for donations from the people, our leaders, who dub Roghun the 'project of the century,' should use that foreign investment in this project."
Khojaev's household, like other in the country, has been limited to five hours of electricity a day since the annual six-month rationing period began in early November.
His remarks represent the views of many ordinary Tajiks, who say they no longer expect the government to resolve the country's electricity crisis.
Khojimuhammad Umarov, a Dushanbe-based expert on the Tajik economy, tells RFE/RL that Roghun would solve the country's energy problem "once and for all."
But Umarov also says that