DUSHANBE, March 15, 2011, Asia-Plus -- An article “Uzbekistan opposes Pakistan’s plan to import electricity from Tajikistan” authored by Khaleeq Kiani and published in the Dawn newspaper (Pakistan) on March 13 says Uzbekistan has opposed Pakistan’s plans to import 1000MW of electricity from Tajikistan through a 750-kilometer transmission line through Afghanistan, saying the proposed $6.5 billion project in its present form would be in violation of international laws.

According to the article, informed sources told Dawn on Sunday that Uzbek Ambassador to Pakistan Arif Karimov met senior officials of the Ministry of Water and Power last week and handed over his government’s ‘letter of disapproval’ for the proposed project.  He is reported to have said that all the low riparian states — not only Uzbekistan but Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan too — were opposed to the project because a mandatory Trans-boundary Environmental Impact Assessment (TEIA) report for the development of Roghun hydroelectricity project had not been shared by Tajikistan for clearance.

“The position of Uzbekistan on water issues is based on international laws and norms. Without denying the rights of any country to carry out projects, Uzbekistan is urging upper riparian countries to conduct Transboundary Environment Impact Assessment of multipurpose hydropower projects, which will be operated for the CASA-1000,” said an Uzbek letter seen by Dawn.

Tashkent has asked Islamabad to urge countries of the region (Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) to follow international norms on the use of trans-boundary water resources.

“Pakistan’s position as potential importer of electricity from the upper riparian countries may be highly instrumental in resolving the water disputes in Central Asia and implementing the regional projects based on peace and consensus”.

Uzbekistan said the hydropower projects which would provide electricity for the CASA-1000 were located on trans-boundary rivers of Central Asia and so far “the TEIA of these projects are neither shared nor cleared by lower riparian countries”.

Uzbek envoy said the proposed transmission line from Tajikistan would cover a distance of 562 kilometers in Afghanistan.  “The point to ponder about is how Afghanistan would assure the safety and reliability of electricity supplied through this trouble spot and essentially most vulnerable part of the globe”.

As an incentive to refrain Pakistan from pursuing the project, Uzbekistan has offered Islamabad to take in hand three hydropower projects of 1315MW capacity on river Swat in which “the Uzbek government and other lower riparian will also consider financial help to start these projects”.

We will recall that the objective of the Central Asia-South Asia regional Energy and Trade (CASA-1000) project is to promote electricity exports from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The project outcome will be measured by the amount of electricity (in kilo Watt hours) exported through the transmission system to be constructed under the project.  The CASA 1000 Project would comprise: a) around 750 km High Voltage Direct Current (DC) transmission system between Tajikistan and Pakistan via Afghanistan; b) a DC to Alternate Current (AC) converter station in Kabul to supply Kabul area; c) an AC transmission link between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to supply Kyrgyz electricity to South Asia via Tajikistan; and d) the concomitant institutional and legal framework to enable such electricity trade.

It is to be noted that speaking to reporters after a meeting with President Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe, the Inter RAO YeES CEO Boris Kovalchuk noted on March 11 that their company is ready to participate in CASA-1000 project.  “Our company is considering the possibility of investing in the construction of a 500kV power transmission line through the territory Afghanistan to Kabul (Tajikistan-Afghanistan),” Kovalchuk said noting that that would allow them to supply electricity generated in Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  “The volume that could be supplied will exceed summer power surpluses.  Therefore, it would be expedient to build new capacities, but we must consider such projects jointly,” he noted.