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.
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
"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
"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
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
"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.
Nevertheless, 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.