DUSHANBE, December 12, Asia-Plus - Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov today left for the site for Sangtuda-1 hydropower plant to familiarize himself with preparations for damming the Vakhsh River. 

Turanboy Tuichiyev, representative from presidential press service, told Asia-Plus that the construction of the dam for Sangtuda-1 hydropower plant will officially commence on December 15.  According to him, President Emomali Rahmonov, head of the Russian conglomerate Unified Energy Systems (RAO YeES) Anatoly Chubais and head of Barqi Tojik (Tajik electric systems) power holding Sharifkhon Samiyev will attend “a ceremony of damming the Vakhsh River.” 

Meanwhile, according to Barqi Tojik (Tajik electric systems) power holding, in connection with damming the river and reduction in generation of electricity by the Norak hydroelectric power station, a strict electrical power cutback will be introduced across the country, including Dushanbe, beginning on December 13.  “On December 15, electricity supplies will be disrupted throughout the country,” the Barqi Tojik source said, noting that electricity will be available only to the facilities of nationwide significance. 

Tajikistan’s main resource is water, and Russia is stepping up efforts to develop the republic’s hydropower generating capacity.  Construction of Sangtuda-1 started in April 2005, and Anatoly Chubais announced that contractors would intensify work to meet the construction deadline for the Sangtuda-1 hydroelectric power station.  The power station is scheduled to go into full operation in 2009, with the first unit expected to begin generating electricity in April 2007.  RAO YeES is spending approximately $500 million to build Sangtuda-1, and the Russian entity will retain a 75 percent share in the power plant, which will generate a projected 2.7 billion kWh of electricity per annum.  The power station will have an estimated capacity of 670 MW – enough to meet Tajikistan’s domestic needs and allow for the export of electricity, namely to Afghanistan.