Uzbekistan: Rogun Hydropower Project threatens to whole region
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) --
First deputy Prime-Minister of Uzbekistan - Minister of Finance Rustam Azimov pointed to facts, which shows that it is impossible to construct Rogun Hydropower Project in Tajikistan.
Rustam Azimov presented position of Uzbekistan on the construction of power station at the meeting of the representatives of Central Asia in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The meeting was held to discuss a World Bank report Key Issues for Consideration on the Proposed Rogun Hydropower Project and use of water transboundary water resources.
Speaking at the meeting, Uzbek official noted that Uzbekistan did not participate in previous stages of expertise of the construction of Rogun Hydropower Station. He said that Uzbekistan did not participate in the meetings as it considers that organization of the expertise, selection of consultants, its financing and determining technical tasks and other important parameters does not meet international standards of independence, impartiality, objectiveness, and transparency of assessment of the project.
Rustam Azimov criticized that the Government of Tajikistan was entrusted to organize a tender for selection of the expertise, which is financed by the World Bank, despite that Tajikistan is interested side in the project. He said that this fully contradicts to commonly accepted norms of taking into account interests of all sides.
Uzbek First Deputy Prime Minister underlined that the construction of the station should be stopped till the end of the expertise, but construction works were conducted despite there were no evidences for expediency of the project.
He said that the World Bank had opportunity to validity of fears of the Uzbek side, witnessing targeted construction works at Rogun hydropower station under the guise of restoration activities. He said that the Tajik authorities allocate US$300 million from the budget each year. The size of the allocated funds clearly shows the scale of the building, rather than reconstruction works.
Rustam Azimov stated that professional expertise should include assessment of potential negative impact of the project to ecologic balance and water flow regime at Amudarya river basin, as well as analyses of efficiency of alternative projects to giant project.
The Uzbek side forwarded its opinion to the World Bank, but they were not taken into account and were not answered in published researches, he said.
Uzbekistan had hoped that the World Bank in its work on the project on construction of the Rogun hydropower plant will adhere to the basic principles of integrity, transparency, objectivity and international best practice, Azimov said. He said that these hopes were not justified. World Bank ignored large part of reasoned arguments and positions on large-scale technological, environmental, social and economic threats Rogun project. He added that there were no answers to key issues, which were raised by Uzbekistan.
In this context, Uzbekistan decided to direct the delegation to the meeting to present its principle position on the project and gave its assessment to so-called ‘expertise’ of the project on construction of Rogun hydropower station.
Rustam Azimov said in previous two days of the event, the Uzbek leading experts, who have great experience in designing, constructing and managing large hydropower stations in Central Asia, presented their reasoned conclusions and remarks on prepared documents.
Azimov underlined that the documents, prepared by the Bank, do not answer to key questions, which concern the countries, located in downstream, in particular Uzbekistan.
Uzbek First Deputy Minister recalled that the project of construction of Rogun hydropower station was developed 44 years ago and it is fully outdated now both on technical approaches and constriction norms, as well as modern standards of ecologic safety. He criticized consultants, who did not understand or fully ignored that approaches to construction of such giant establishment changed and technical standards and norms fully changed.
Azimov said that the concept of calculation of seismic load to buildings, new requirements to seismic modeling, sustainability of dams, etc. He said that ecologic standards were changed drastically.
The Rogun project is not just outdated. Uzbek official said that the highest dam in the world is constructed in the area of tectonic break on the huge salt dome and the project is base on technical and project-based engineering solutions and standards of the last century. So, the standard expertise is not able to fully cover parameters of the projects and requirements to its assessment should be much higher.
Prepared documents contain a number of flaws, defects and failures, which can lead to bad decisions, fraught with extremely serious catastrophic consequences for Central Asian region as they do not take into account real risks of the project.
Azimov said that the construction site is located in high seismic areas. He said that according to data of the US Geologic Survey, over 250 earthquakes with magnitude of 4 or higher and 12 earthquakes with magnitude of 6 took place in the area since the beginning of 2013. He said that researches and assessment show that there is high probability of earthquake with the magnitude of 9 or higher in the region.
Uzbek official underlined that the consultants proposed to hold seismic assessment in next stages of the project and create microseismic monitoring network despite they know that destruction of Rogun dam can lead to “dramatic impacts” in downstream countries. He said that such recommendations cannot be named as professional or logical recommendation.
He said that it is planned to construct the highest dam of the world with the height of 335 meters on the soil, under which there are 100 meter salt layer without developing a complex of measures on its protection. He said that the salt layers can lead to full destruction of the dam, criticizing experiments carried out in the lab. He said that the consultants again proposed to drill wells and carry out monitoring of salt diffusion.
Rustam Azimov underlined that billion tonnes of water can destruct everything on its way and impact lives of millions of people.
The consultants also did not take into account mudflows. Azimov said that the consultants recommended to construct anti-mudflow dam with the same parameters with Rogun dam and Uzbek official said that the proposal is absurd.
He said that arguments of the Uzbek experts were not considered, while the consultants offered to carry out additional researches on non-important aspects of the project in next stages.
Azimov said that Uzbekistan is unsatisfied with three-year work of the experts, who could not answer to key questions such as existence of man-caused catastrophe risks, protection of rights of countries for water in middle and lower course of Amudarya, risks to environment of the region, and alternative approaches to problems of energy deficit in Tajikistan in winter period. He said that the experts offer to continue expertise in next stages instead of answering questions.
Rustam Azimov questioned the skills of the World Bank and its consultants to make well-founded conclusions on the project. He added that the station cannot be constructed based on this expertise.
All difficult questions in the report of the consultants were left to future and the report cannot be considered as professional and competent. Uzbekistan refuses to consider the conclusions of the project on Rogun hydropower station as it does not meets standards of professional expert conclusion.
Uzbek minister recalled that 75 people died in the result of accident at Sayano-Shushen power station in Russia in 2009, which was constructed on the same project of Rogun power station.
Impartial analysis shows that the influence of the Rogun hydropower plant on the Vakhsh River flow regime and, accordingly, the Amu Darya would be devastating to water, food and environmental safety of the downstream countries.
Azimov questioned conclusions of the World Bank on preserving water flow of Vakhsh river as Tajikistan changed regime of water flow regime in summer period. He said that the Rogun dam can accumulate all stock of Vakhsh during lower water season (14 cubic km).
He said that if the Rogun and Nurek water reservoirs will work in energy regime, the deficit of water annually will make up 11.5 cubic km in vegetation period and 6.5 cubic km in a year. Azimov doubted conclusions of the World Bank that the downstream countries will receive additional water in the result of the project implementation. He said that the project will help to dictate the volume of water, which downstream countries will receive. This will create political pressure tool against downstream countries and can lead to conflicts.
The decrease of water flow in Amudarya by 7.4 cubic km a year will mean that the agriculture sector will lose 385,000 hectares of land and the figure can rise to 500,000 hectares in drought period. Over 9,500 farmers or 1.5 million people with their families and workers can lose their income.
The situation can lead to conflict as people without water will be ready for anything to receive access to the water, he said.
World Bank also hopes that Tajikistan will provide necessary guarantees to downstream countries, Azimov said. At the same time, he asked how this guarantee will work and who will guarantee interests of downstream countries – World Bank or is consultants.
Azimov underlined that the consultants used methods, applied in Southern Eastern Asia and other regions, in calculation of water use in Vakhsh river, which shows unprofessionalism of the consultants. He said that the water flow is formed due to rains in these regions, while the water flow in Central Asia is formed due to melting of snow and glaciers. Azimov stated that the calculations show be based on weather temperature, number and duration of solar days, nebulosity and others. He said that all these make conclusions and assessments of the consultants on Rogun project unfounded and unprofessional.
Uzbek minister also criticized unprofessional approach of the World Bank as its consultants only assessed impact of the project only in territory of Tajikistan. He said that it focuses on information that about 6,000 families will be re-settled in the result of the project.
He noted that the expertise did not assess impact of the project to one of two largest rivers of Central Asia and downstream countries, as well as its impact o ecologic balance of the region, including in Aral Sea Basin, sustainable development of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
He cited research of scientists of New York University and Northern Dakota University in the USA, which noted that the water deficit, created in the result of construction of Rogun hydropower station, will cost US$600 million to Uzbekistan of loss each year only in agriculture sector and decrease the country’s GDP by 2%, while 340,000 people will lose their jobs. Uzbekistan will not be able to use 506,000 hectares of land (about 11% of irrigated lands). The loss of agriculture sector can reach US$1 billion during dry years.
Uzbek official said it is difficult to assess losses of people, who will have to move to other places in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. He said that Uzbekistan will make huge losses in the result of construction of Rogun hydropower station. During the winter period, level of Amudarya will increase and it will create threat to lives of people in downstream countries and destroy buildings, industrial and infrastructure objects.
According to reports, it will require 16 years to fill Rogun dam and during the period there will be low level of water in Amudarya river, one of two largest rivers of Central Asia, he said. Azimov also said that the consultants ignored worsening of life condition of people and activities of millions of people.
Uzbek official noted that the consultants and World Bank did not take into account losses and risks of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan in development of IRR of the Rogun project. Uzbekistan cannot agree with development of such project.
Rustam Azimov also questioned the project cost. He said that according to researches of Oxford University based on study of all 245 large dams, constructed in last 70 years, the cost of the project rises twice from estimated costs and several times in low income countries.
He said that the cost of construction of Rogun hydropower station is about US$5 billion. Taking into account world experience, the actual cost will make up US$10 billion and with necessary construction of infrastructure – US$15 billion, which exceeds Tajikistan’s GDP twice.
Taking into account, Uzbekistan said the project cannot be implemented as it ignores interests of troundboundary states and international legislations on use of water resources of transboundary water flows and does not includes assessment of its impact to other countries of the region, Azimov said.
He said that the consultants also did not deeply study technical issues, which creates risks for catastrophes from destruction of Rogun dam.
Uzbek official stated that the World Bank and consultants accidentally or intentionally overlooked that winter electricity shortages in Tajikistan is about 500-600 MW, not 3,600 MW, representing a capacity of Rogun hydro power plant.
Azimov underlined that the consultants did not study alternative ways of overcoming energy deficiency in Tajikistan. He said that the Uzbek experts calculated Tajikistan can produce 30 billion KWH of electricity in cold time with construction of small hydro power stations, which is much higher that the capacity of Rogun hydropower station (4-6 billion KWH) and require less investments.
Azimov said that World Bank approved a project on construction of high voltage line CASA 1000, even there is no reliable power generation sources, calculations on losses during transit, final cost of the project, agreed prices for electricity transit.
Azimov pointed out to the fact that Kyrgyzstan currently had to import 500 million KWH of electricity in summer time and this shows that CASA 1000 project is baseless.
He said that the Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank refused to finance the project on these grounds. But, the World Bank approved the project.
Azimov said that the project implementation can lead to wide-scale ecologic changes in the region, violation of water flow and loss of hundred thousands lands, man-caused catastrophes, which can claim lives of millions of people. At the same time, the project can create conflict potential in Central Asia.
Uzbek official said that there are also no guarantee that all sides will implement requirements of the UN convention and international law on use of transboundary water resources. He said that the position of the World Bank on the project will result in negative consequences to the region.
Azimov said that Uzbekistan offers to consider results and conclusions of assessments as unsatisfactory and insufficient for making competent conclusions on the project.
He said that Uzbekistan calls to analyze alternative variants of overcoming electricity shortage in Tajikistan, including construction of medium and small water reservoirs, expansion and construction of thermal power stations with use of coal, as well as other rational opportunities. These projects can be implemented in short period and will not result in man-caused, ecologic or social threats to the region.
Uzbek official said that conclusions of the consultants and panel of experts on Rogun hydropower station are absolutely unacceptable for Uzbekistan. He said that the consultants and experts only focused its efforts to promote the project, ignoring interests of population and states, located in lower course of Amudarya.
Uzbekistan cannot support conclusions of the experts in presented documents and will not support the project, Azimov said.