Uzbekistan’s President talks tough against Kambarata and Rogun hydroelectric power stations
Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s President, who is on a two day visit to Kazakhstan, spoke out strongly and emotionally against the construction of Kambarata (Kyrgyzstan) and Rogun (Tajikistan) hydro-electric power stations. KyrTAG agency quotes Mr Karimov saying “water resources can become a problem which leads to the sharpening of relations in the Central Asian region. The situation could deteriorate beyond only religious opposition to war.”
The problem of the rational use of water energy resources is one of the region’s key issues, according to Mr Karimov. “Yes, those who live in the higher lands, and I mean Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, they are interested in the energy use of the cross border rivers and unfortunately they forget that Amu Darya and Sirdarya are trans-border rivers. If we are talking about water resources, created in a pool, inside a country’s administrative border – that’s fine. But, if we are talking about cross border rivers, please keep to international standards and rules. There are four conventions for this, which have accepted by the UN”, Tengrinews reports quoting the Uzbek president.
“We are asking that before you begin building, before singing documents with some great country or other, lets first carry out an objective international expert review and give our peoples a clear explanation. What will happen to those who live in the lower lands? Especially since the Rogun Hydro and Kambarata 1 projects were created at the same time, i.e. in the 1970s-1980s, when the Soviet Union existed, and all those living in it suffered from the same disease – gigantomania” continued Mr Karimov.
Islam Karimov explained that there is a threat that the HEP dams, which will be build in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, will be torn through. Karimov is certain that a necessary condition of the HEP’s construction must be agreement of all the countries through which the rivers flow.
“Uzbeks and Kazakhs have lived on the lowest points of the river for many centuries. Given this, we cannot be quiet today when this or that plan is made, plans which are made without any consideration for the situation in which we will end up in tomorrow. Kambarata 1, which they want to build. It will cost around $5bln, and the dam will be 275 meters. This is one of the tallest dams in the world. In Amu Darya – they are going to build Rogun HEP in Tajikistan. The dam will be 350 metres. This is the tallest dam in the world. Clearly, they decided to beat the Guinness World Records. But this is not a question of records, but of the lives and fates of the millions of people who cannot live without water. Another thing to exacerbate the situation is that there is a tectonic break in the Kambarata and Ragun construction. All seismologists in the world acknowledge this. Even recently, American seismologists in Nevada said that these tectonic breaks are very serious.
The Ubek president reminded that there were three very strong earthquakes, on a scale of 9-10 in the last few centuries in the Kambarata HEP. “If this has happened in the last few centuries, why can’t we think that this might happen again tomorrow? And it will tear up these dams. The Toktogul reservoir has around 19 bln cm of water. Can you imagine what will happen when this wave of 50 – 100 metres falls and destroys everything in its path?”
Karimov announced that an international expert review must take place and all countries on the rivers’ flood plains must be in agreement. According to Mr Karimov Kazakhstan’s and Uzbekistan’s average annual demand for water is still 70-75 percent satisfied. And if the dams are built “we don’t know what the percentage of water will be” said the Uzbek president. “We want to know the simplest things – how will the stock of water change, how much water do we get today and how much will we get tomorrow, when these barriers are erected in the rivers. We just want to evaluate all this”, Avesta.tj quotes Mr Karimov.
Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev supported his Uzbek colleague: “this question is very important to all the republics. We are sending another brotherly salute to our neighbours and brothers because we, being at the bottom, with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on the Amu Darya, and Turkmenistan, simply feel the lack of water more. Every body feels it in their life, because their lives are the lives of millions of people. We hope that we will resolve these issues together, with a good outcome for all the countries,” Tengrinews quotes Mr Nazarbayev.
These strong statements, criticising the construction of the two hydroelectric power stations, were made on the eve of Russian President Putin’s visit to Kyrgyzstan, where agreements on the construction of Kambarata HEP1 and Verkhnenarinskoye cascade HEP were to be signed. Preliminary agreements on construction were reached during the visit of the first Russian Deputy Prime Minister I. Shuvalov’s visit to Bishkek. It is expected that Russia will completely finance this construction and the dividends will be distributed 50/50 between the countries. Verkhnenarin cascade HEP will be build by “RusHydro” and the first pod to be constructed is due to be laid before 1 October.
According to RIA Novosti, the total volume of investment by Russian companies RusHydro and Inter RAO in the construction of the Verkhnenarin cascade HEP and Kambarata HEP1 will be no less than three billion dollars. As announced by the Kyrgyz minister of the economy and anti-monopoly policy Temir Sariyev, there will be no delays from Bishkek in preparing the agreement. The draft of the agreement will be presented for discussion by the special-purpose committee of Jogorku Kengesh (parliament) and approved at the beginning of next week. Mr Putin will go to Tajikistan, where the future fate of the 201 Russian army base will be further discussed.
Fergana international information agency. Translated by Sophia Matveeva