Tajikistan affirms absence of Rogun dam threat to Uzbekistan





Tajikistan will consider the environment and water balance in building the Rogun hydropower plant (HPP) and will never do anything to harm its neighbors, Tajik Prime Minister Akil Akilov said in an open letter this week to his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev.


The Uzbek premier sent an open letter to Akilov on February 3 outlining that "it is necessary to make an independent evaluation of the project before resuming the construction of the Rogun hydropower plant. The project was elaborated about 40 years ago and based on obsolete technologies".

"As to the essence of this problem, I would like to stress the unwavering position of
Tajikistan. Not a single project we implement is targeted against another country, and we are ready for the closest cooperation with neighbors with due account of national interests," reads Akilov’s letter posted by the Khovar news agency.

Uzbekistan fears that the construction of six units of the Rogun hydropower plant, each with the capacity of 600 megawatts, will be catastrophic for Uzbek farmers because it will reduce the Amu Darya flow. Tajikistan dismisses the accusations and voices the readiness for negotiations.

"The government of the
Republic of Tajikistan is ready to discuss all aspects of the project. It is ready to receive a delegation of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Dushanbe in the near future," Akilov said.

The Uzbek premier warned about the possible busting of the Rogun dam, which would become the world's highest. "The facility will have no effect on the water flow and will not risk lives," the Tajik premier responded.

The Uzbek prime minister said
Central Asia is already facing environmental problems in the aftermath of what he called the Aral Sea "catastrophe”. The inland sea has shrunk considerably over the past four decades after the Amu Darya and other rivers that fed the sea were diverted by Soviet-era irrigation projects.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev said
Tajikistan has to examine the possible impact of the Rogun plant on Amu Darya water volumes, "as the very survival of millions of people” depends on it. He also pointed out that the Rogun power plant is located in an area with a track record of "several major earthquakes of up to magnitude 10”.

He compared threats posed by Soviet-era hydropower plants in
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the 2009 accident in Russia's Sayano-Shushenskaya power plant, which killed 75 people and caused vast environmental damage to its surroundings.

Sobit Nematulloev, a prominent Tajik seismologist, dismissed
Tashkent's warning as "baseless”.

"We have been studying the issue for years. Experts have investigated and approved it,” Nematulloev said. “They have only concluded that the situation has to be monitored all the time. [
Uzbekistan's] allegation about earthquake track records is a lie.

“There was a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in [
Tajikistan’s] Hoit district once. We can't stop building the plant because there was one 6.0 earthquake in the area.”
The Uzbek prime minister threatened to take the matter further to the international community and environmental organizations if
Tajikistan ignores the warning.

Tajikistan declares its sovereign right to build the hydropower plant. "All questions of the environment, the water balance and the threat of man-made catastrophes are fully taken into account by Tajikistan. The construction of such sites is a sovereign right of any country provided by international laws," Akilov said.