Tajik government is expected to reduce financing for the Roghun hydroelectricity project next year.
Tajik Finance Minister Abdusalom Qurbobiyon revealed that the government would reduce financing for the Roghun hydroelectricity project to 1.3 billion somoni in 2017.
“Over the last three years, the budget has annually earmarked about 3 billion somoni for the project”, the minister said.
He further added that work on blocking the Vakhsh River for construction of the Roghun HPP dam would start in October or November this year.
Roghun HPP is an embankment dam in the preliminary stages of construction on the Vakhsh River in southern Tajikistan. It is one of the planned hydroelectric power plants of Vakhsh Cascade. Over three decades only preliminary construction has been carried out on the dam. Due to its controversial state, construction was suspended in August 2012 pending World Bank reports. The dam has drawn complaints from neighbor Uzbekistan, which fears it will negatively impact its lucrative cotton crops. The dispute over the project has contributed significantly to bitter relations between the two countries.
The Roghun HPP was first proposed in 1959 and a technical scheme was developed by 1965. Construction began in 1976; however the project was frozen after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
An agreement on finishing the construction was signed between Tajikistan and Russia in 1994; however, as the agreement was not implemented, it was denounced by Tajikistan parliament.
In October 2004, Tajikistan signed an agreement with Russia’s RusAl aluminum company, according to which RusAl agreed to complete the Roghun facility and rebuild the Tursunzoda aluminum smelter. In August 2007, Tajikistan formally revoked the contract with RusAl, accusing it of failing to fulfill the contract.
In April 2008, Tajikistan founded OJSC NBO Roghun with an authorized capital of 116 million somoni for completing the construction of the Roghun HPP. Current authorized capital of OJSC NBO Roghun reportedly amounts to 12 billion somoni.
To raise funds to complete construction of the Roghun HPP the government started selling shares in Roghun to people on January 6, 2010. Tajikistan has reportedly issued 6 billion somoni worth of Roghun shares. To-date, the sale of Roghun shares has reportedly earned the government 830 million somoni.
In response to the request of the bordering countries and especially Uzbekistan, the World Bank has financed the Techno-Economic Assessment Study (TEAS) conducted by consortium of Coyne et Bellier, Electroconsult and IPA Energy + Water Economics, and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) conducted by Poyry. The ESIA was published on June 16, 2014 and the TEAS in July 2014. Overall, the ESIA stated that “most impacts are rather small and easily mitigated, if mitigation is required at all” and that “there is no impact of the category “strong negative, mitigation not possible,” which would have to be considered as a no-go for the project”.
If built as planned, the dam will be the tallest in the world at 330 meters and have a capacity of 3600 MW. (Asia-Plus/Business World Magazine)