Wednesday, August 17, 2011 -
The World Bank on Tuesday cautioned Tajikistan against renewing construction on the planned massive Rogun dam owing to large volumes of sediment carried by the powerful Vakhsh River.
The findings, delivered at the completion of a 10-day visit by a World Bank team and independent technical experts, said plans to start building the first intermediate height dam of nearly 400 feet should not begin.
The experts, who evaluated the project according to international standards, risk evaluation and impact assessment, instead recommended that further technical, economic, environmental and social assessments be made of a full-height dam.
“In this regard, the good progress of the on-going assessment studies provides a solid basis for comprehensive assessment of the full height dam, which could take from six to eight months to complete,” the World Bank said.
The Tajik government agreed with the global lender last year that no new construction would commence on the $4 billion hydropower plant until all assessment studies were shared with the downstream countries.
Opponents of the project warn that the disputed project would reduce scarce water supplies needed for crops and speed the drying of the Aral Sea. They also assert that a powerful earthquake in the seismically volatile region could release a devastating torrent of water that would bring disaster to downstream communities in the lower-lying countries.
Tajikistan believes that the large dam will put an end to its chronic energy shortages.