Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 297 - (29/09/05)
New interest in Tajik power by Russia and Iran
The energy crisis afflicting the world economy, with oil prices soaring to US$60
per barrel and over, and gas prices correspondingly, is creating a new interest
in alternative forms of energy, especially cleaner ones. Hydro-electricity is
both cheap and clean and Tajikistan has an abundance of it.
The snag is that Tajikistan is a very remote place. Still, even the Japanese are
becoming interested in obtaining power from Tajikistan, despite the high
transmission costs. So are the Russians and the Iranians, not so far away,
although still far away. But the stakes are high, with talk of oil going to
US$100 per barrel or more. At that sort of price Tajik power becomes a real
factor in the world's energy equation.
Huge Russian investment
Russian aluminium giant RUSAL is investing more than US$1 billion in the
construction of the Rogunskaya hydroelectric power plant in Tajikistan, the
industry and energy minister said on September 26th. "This project is a
step in the joint exploitation of water resources and RUSAL is investing more
than a billion dollars in the construction of the plant," Viktor Khristenko
According to Khristenko, the construction of the Rogunskaya plant and Sangtuda 1
and 2 plants would allow Tajikistan to increase its annual electric power output
from 16 to 34 billion kilowatts and to export surplus energy to South Kazakstan,
Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.
The plant is being constructed 110 kilometers east of the Tajik capital of
Dushanbe. When the plant hits full operating capacity, it will have a 13.3
billion-kWh per year output. The launch of the first stage is planned for
Iran-Tajikistan Power Plant
The Iranians are also keen to be involved, accepting Russian help in the
Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov said on September 26th in Dushanbe,
during the ceremony to mark beginning of Raqoun Hydroelectric Power Plant, that
"based on reached agreements, the Islamic Republic of Iran would officially
start construction of Tajikistan's Sang-Toudeh II Hydroelectric Power Plant
before the end of 2005." Rakhmonov who was speaking to the press following
participation at the ceremony to mark beginning of construction work at Raqoun
Power Plant, added, "Our other step in launching joint projects aimed at
constructing power Plants in Tajikistan would be cooperation with Iran."
The plant is being constructed in cooperation with the Russian technicians 110
kilometres to the east of capital city Dushanbe.
The Tajik President added, "In my meeting with President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York we discussed the
issue of Sang-Toudeh II Power plant and Iran's participation in Tajikistan's
energy projects, over which both sides were agreed."
Emphasizing Tajikistan's readiness for broader cooperation with Islamic Republic
of Iran, President Rakhmonov said, "Based on reached agreements Iran would
start construction work on that hydroelectric power plant within the remaining
three months of the current year." He added, "180 million US dollars
is allocated to the construction of Sang-Toudeh II Hydroelectric Power Plant,
out of which the Tajik construction firms' share would be US$40 million.
Two earthquakes rock Tajikistan overnight, no damage
The world's energy crisis is coinciding with an environmental one, that is
partly causing it. Everyone is becoming increasingly aware of the increasing
volatility of the global environment, what with the tsunamai and now the
hurricanes in one year.
Two earthquakes jolted Tajikistan overnight on September 27th. Their epicentre
was located approximately 80-100 kilometres northeast of the capital Dushanbe
and 16-17 kilometres from the Rogun hydropower plant now under construction.
The magnitude of the two earth tremors was ranging from 4.5 to five points on a
twelve-point quake intensity scale, the Dushanbe seismological station told
The earthquake force was three-3.5 points in the Tajikistani capital. According
to the country's emergencies ministry, there have been no reports about damage
in the area of Rogun city and Dushanbe. But the two could be a warning of worse
Early-warning project seeks to tame Tajikistan's "water dragon"
Yet another grave threat concerns Lake Sarez in Tajikistan, a prime area for
Experts have long worried that Lake Sarez, one of the world's largest natural
reservoirs, is a potential source of a natural disaster. A World Bank-sponsored
early-warning system is now monitoring the lake, along with the Usoy Dam. During
a recent incident, the system passed an important test, alerting monitors about
a rapid rise in the lake's water level.
The incident occurred July 13th, when monitoring equipment installed in and
around the lake detected a rise in its level of more than 25 centimetres (or
just under one foot) over a 24-hour period, according to a World Bank statement.
An emergency observation team was immediately dispatched to the lake and
ultimately determined that the rising water was not a cause for sounding a
"Although it was not the emergency first feared, the early warning system
provided an opportunity to ensure that any imminent danger would have been known
about early enough to save lives," the World Bank said in its August 15th
Installation of the early-warning equipment, worth an estimated US$1.5 million,
was completed in December 2004 at Lake Sarez. It aims to alert authorities about
potential developments at the lake, including mudslides and avalanches, which
could cause water levels to surge, or weaken the Usoy Dam. Instruments also
relay meteorological data, including wind-speed on the lake and precipitation.
"A functional monitoring system and trained government personnel are the
best assets any country could expect to have to be prepared to manage unusual
hydrological events such as a massive flood," Rita Cestti, the World Bank
official responsible for the lake's Risk-Mitigation Project, said in the
The World Bank launched the project in 2000, with assistance from the Tajik
government and international organizations and non-governmental organizations,
including USAID and the Aga Khan Foundation. In addition to the installation of
the early-warning system, the project has trained residents in Bartang Valley
beneath the Usoy dam on evacuation procedures and survival skills, while seeking
to bolster officials' disaster-response capabilities. The overall cost of the
project is US$4.29 million.
Representatives of the World Bank and other organizations stress that a
catastrophic flood is unlikely. Still, given the potential for devastation, no
one is dismissive of the risk. "Should such a flood occur, the impact on
the downstream valleys would be devastating, affecting up to 5 million
people," the World Bank statement said. The impact of a dam break could be
felt not only across Tajikistan, but also in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and
Turkmenistan." The Risk-Mitigation Project benefits roughly 130,000 Tajiks
living in lake's immediate vicinity.
An earthquake in 1911 created the Usoy Dam, which led to the formation of Lake
Sarez, named after an inundated village. The dam is over 550 meters high (over
1,500 feet) and sits about two miles above sea level in the Pamir Mountain
range. Some of the peaks surrounding the lake are over 6,000 meters in height.
The natural reservoir is now estimated to contain about 17 cubic kilometres of
The lake's water level is currently about 50 meters below the top of the dam,
and it is rising at a current rate of 20 centimetres a year. Local experts
estimate the dam is sturdy and unlikely to collapse. The greatest concern for
scientists at this point is an avalanche or landslide that would cause water to
surge over the top of the dam.
Iranian businessmen discuss ties with Tajikistan
A 70-member Iranian industrial and trade delegation arrived in Tajikistan to
attend Iran's fourth exclusive exhibition in Dushanbe. The five-day fair began
on August 25th in which 45 Iranian industrial and manufacturing concerns
displayed their products. The head of the Iranian exhibition, Ali Khaksar, said
that about 90 per cent of the delegation members were Iranian private companies
management and directors. Khaksar said the delegation members discussed
expansion of industrial and trade ties as well as establishing various joint
ventures with Tajik private and government officials, New Europe reported.
During their stay in Dushanbe, the Iranian delegation also signed several
agreements. He added that all the preparatory work has been completed to hold
the exhibition. At the beginning of the meeting, the former Commerce Minister,
Mohammad Shariatmadari, described the bilateral relations as "strategic and
of great importance," adding that these relations have an old record. He
said, "The Iranian delegation, including public sector directors,
businessmen, merchants and industrial managers have held primary discussions
with their Tajik counterparts." The sixth meeting of Iran-Tajikistan joint
economic commission was held in Dushanbe in July.
Tajik Minister of Economy and Trade, Hakim Salehov, was also pleased over
economic cooperation between the two nations and the expansion of comprehensive
ties, saying that "the bilateral cooperation between our two nations in
recent years has led to very good and acceptable developments." He called
Iran's investments in a hydro-power plant.
Thailand and Tajikistan continue to boost ties
Tajik President, Emomali Rakhmonov, on the invitation of the government of
Thailand, visited Thailand to strengthen ties and cooperation between the 2
countries in various areas, Interfax News Agency reported recently.
Rakhmonov was on a 5-day visit to Thailand recently, his first visit to the
kingdom. He was officially received and welcomed by Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin
Shinawatra, at the government house. Shinawatra and Rakhmonov held bilateral
talks at the government house. After the talks, both sides inked 6 agreements on
bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, energy sector, tourism, narcotics
control and anti-terrorism. Rakhmonov has also invited Thaksin to pay a visit to
Tajikistan some time in the future.