Afghan lawmakers on Saturday approved the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas agreement, Afghan television ToloNews reported.
The Afghan parliament’s International Liaison Commission said the agreement will act as a boost for the Afghan economy and the gas flow would help to strengthen relations between the countries involved in the project.
About 7,000 personnel will be assigned to ensure security to the project in Afghanistan, said Muhammad Anwar Akbari, a member of the commission.
Afghanistan will receive 1.2 billion cubic metres of natural gas once the project is completed.
Akbari said that this would rise to over five billion cubic metres within five years.
The cost of the project is estimated at around $7.8 billion, said Akbari. Construction work, with the help of an American firm, will begin by 2012 and is expected to be completed by 2014, he added.
The Tapi pipeline aims to transport over 30 billion cubic metres of gas annually from the Dauletabad gas fields in southeast Turkmenistan and could turn into a cash cow for Afghanistan in transit fees.
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai called it “a highly important project” and assured that he would “put in efforts to ensure security both during construction and after completing the project”.
The pipeline would also go through Quetta and end in Fazilka, an Indian city near the India-Pakistan border.
“This gas communication will relieve Pakistan’s economy of its weakness and help battle extremism,” President Zardari had said at a summit in Turkmenistan last December.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2011.