Tajik FM calls Uzbekistan's Rogun-related water fears 'baseless'


October 20, 2010


Tajikistan’s Rogun Hydropower Plant (HPP) will not reduce the flow of the Amu Darya River to downstream Uzbekistan, Tajik Foreign Minister Khamrokhon Zarifia said at a Dushanbe conference on Monday as he invited international experts to review the project.

Zarifi was responding to arguments by Uzbekistan which opposes the construction of the dam on the basis that it will consume available water resources.

Rogun is being built to produce 3,600 megawatts of energy for Tajikistan, but is resented by the Uzbek authorities who claim it will create serious water shortages and financial disruption to their economy.

"Condemning Tajikistan for building the Rogun HPP and claiming that Uzbekistan will be left with no water for eight years is baseless and there is no scientific proof," The Times of Central Asia cited the Tajik foreign minister as telling a press conference.

In defense of his government’s water policy, the minister pointed out that Tajikistan currently uses far less than the quota allocated to it.

"All Central Asian rivers, which flow into the Aral Sea, begin in Tajikistan which uses only 4-5% of these resources, and Tajikistan is only allowed to use a 12.5% quota of all these resources for its own irrigation needs," the Kyrgyz-based news agency cited the minister as saying.

"The Rogun water reservoir will be filled on the basis of our quotas only and not a drop more," Zarifi promised.

The minister invited international organizations to send environmental experts to study the hydropower plant and all other water reservoirs of the nations located in the upper reaches of the Amu Darya.

The Dushanbe government has also encouraged World Bank experts to review the Rogun project for any possible negative downstream consequences, the news agency said.

Zarifi also added that international observers should go further and review water reservoirs throughout all of Central Asia.

"Uzbekistan has built more than 50 water reservoirs, which is more than the total Aral (Sea) volume by half," he said, referring to the landlocked lake where the river ends.

"Considering all these aspects, we asked international organizations to examine all Central Asian water reservoirs, including the countries in the lower reaches," Zarifi said.