Friday, May 20, 2011

Assessment study for Roghun just a waste of time, says expert

Assessment study for Roghun just a waste of time, says expert
The Times of Central Asia
May 19, 2011

Conducting assessment studies for the Roghun hydroelectricity project is
just a waste of time, Georgy Petrov, the head of the hydropower lab at
the Institute for Water Problems, Hydropower and Ecology of the Academy
of Sciences of Tajikistan, said in an interview with Asia-Plus. "The
assessment studies are senseless, because the problem is not in the
project but in parties (Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) that cannot come to
an understanding," said the expert. "Instead of organizing these useless
assessment studies Tajikistan had to enlist any qualified European
company for improvement of the Roghun hydroelectricity project."

Petrov doubts that the World Bank's assessment studies will run counter
to interests of any of parties. "Most likely, there will be
inconsiderable comments and recommendations," noted he, "In whole, the
World Bank, in its assessments, will proceed from the "stint nobody"

In the meantime, the first set of riparian information-sharing and
discussion meetings on the assessment studies for the proposed Roghun
Regional Water Reservoir and Hydropower Project (Roghun HPP) opened in
Almaty, Kazakhstan yesterday. Tajik delegation attending the meeting is
led by the First deputy Prime Minister Asadullo Ghulomov. The government
delegations of six countries (Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) are meeting on May 17-18 and a
discussion meeting for representatives of civil society will take place

The World Bank has established two independent Panels of Experts:
Engineering and Dam Safety Panel and an Environmental and Social Impact
Assessment Panel. At the conclusion of his visit to Tajikistan, the
World Bank Director for Strategy and Operations for the Europe and
Central Asia (ECA) Region Mr. Theodore Ahlers said on May 12 that the
first reports outline the methodology for the assessments. According to
him, the process will continue in phases, with the next round of
consultations taking place tentatively in the fall of 2011. "We are
committed to completing the assessments as quickly as possible,
consistent with international quality standards. The final reports
should be available by the end of 2012," Mr. Ahlers said.

The consultants' recommendations will be reviewed by the Panels of
Experts, as well as the riparian governments and civil society
stakeholders in the period from September to November 2011 when the next
round of riparian consultations will take place. The draft Environmental
and Social Impact Assessment is expected to be disclosed in December 2011.

Tajikistan's plans to build the Roghun HPP have raised serious concerns
across the border in Uzbekistan. Uzbek officials argue that because it
could take up to 18 years to fill, the Roghun project will severely
reduce the amount of water flowing into Uzbekistan.

In March 2010, the government of Tajikistan and the World Bank signed a
memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation to achieve sustainable
development of Tajikistan's energy resources, secure supply of energy
services to the people of Tajikistan and promote balanced economic
growth. Under this document, the techno-economic, the environmental and
social impact assessments for the Roghun hydroelectricity project will
be conducted Hydropower Project (HPP).

The World Bank has reached an understanding with the Government of
Tajikistan that no new construction would commence until after the
techno-economic and environmental/social studies have been shared and
discussed with riparians, and the studies are reviewed by the
independent Bank-funded Panel of Experts to determine feasibility.
Copyright 2011 The Times of Central AsiaAll Rights Reserved

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