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Energy ambitions fuel Central Asian rivalry

in International Business

Energy ambitions fuel Central Asian rivalry

Construction on new hydroelectric dam stirs Tajik-Uzbek tension in dispute over shared natural resources.

Tajikistan has accused neighbouring Uzbekistan of imposing an economic blockade in a dispute over shared natural resources between the former Soviet states.

This blockade includes ending all freight at the border with Uzbekistan and a cut-off of vital gas supplies by Uzbekistan to the Tajik nation.

The mountainous state wants to ramp up construction of hyrdroelectric plants and store water from the nation’s 25,000 rivers to power them, but downstream, Uzbekistan says the plans by Tajikistan would cut off a water supply they rely on for irrigation.

As part of the Soviet Union the neighbouring republics freely shared their resources, but since independence in 1991 both nations have pursued individual energy programs.

The construction of the Roghun hydroelectric dam in Tajikistan – at a projected 13b kWh of electricity per year, officials say it could one day make Tajikistan an energy exporter in the region – has raised fears that the blocking of Vakhsh River would greatly reduce water supplies to farms in Uzbekistan.

“The situation, if it continues, will lead to the further deterioration of the conditions of life of the people of Tajikistan and threatens to turn into a humanitarian catastrophe,” the Tajik news agency Asia-Plus this week quoted the statement as saying.

Tajikistan is one of the poorest of the Central Asian states. One of its only natural resources is water which runs off the Pamir mountains down to Uzbekistan and irrigates the lucrative cotton fields.



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