DUSHANBE: Leaders of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan met on Thursday to review the progress on the $1.2 billion CASA-1000 project and vowed to take all measures for its early completion.
The quadrilateral project would allow export of 1300 MW of Central Asian electricity to Afghanistan and Pakistan by 2018.
Besides the prime minister, the Quadrilateral meeting of CASA-1000 was attended by Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister Sooronbay Jeenbekov.
The leaders gathered at the mountainous resort, 36km from Dushanbe, and along the gushing waters of Varzob River, discussed the ambitious project that would generate clean electricity through immense hydel resources.
The leaders had launched the project in May 2016, terming it a "win-win and mutually rewarding" for all stakeholder states.
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Although conceived long ago, the Nawaz Sharif’ led government took the initiative to expedite the project leading to the historic agreement in Istanbul.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif termed CASA-1000 a flagship project in the region, and said upon completion would bring a number of economic, social and environmental benefits to member countries.
He said it would reduce the energy deficit, create jobs, improve trade and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, besides contributing to regional integration.
"We must make efforts to ensure that the project is completed well in time," the prime minister said. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif termed the project ‘an important step’ towards realization of the planned Central Asia South Asia Regional Electricity Market (CASAREM).
"It will be a good example of promoting cooperation between energy-deficient South Asia and energy-rich Central Asia," he said.
He expressed the hope that the CASA-1000 Power Project would not only bring revenues to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan but also mitigate electricity shortages in Pakistan and Afghanistan and increase prospects for growth.
He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment for the early implementation of the project.
"We need energy for socio-economic development in Pakistan and to run our industrial sector to its full potential," he said.
He hope it would help in generating employment and uplift standard of living of the people of Pakistan.
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He said CASA-1000 would also be a source of revenue for Afghanistan and open up greater business and investment opportunities.
Prime Minister Sharif said it was heartening to know that five companies, all leading manufacturers like ABB, Seimens, Alstonetc, have submitted bids for convertor stations to be set up at the end of the transmission line.
He said tenders had been floated for transmission lines from Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan and from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and were being evaluated.
"I hope that work on these transmission lines would begin very soon," the prime minister said.
He also extended gratitude to President Emomali Rahmon and his dedicated team for excellent arrangements for the briefing session and work accomplished since launching of CASA-1000 Power Project last year.
The CASA-1000 project is scheduled for completion by 2018 under the umbrella of the World Bank. Tajikistan share in the energy export will be 70 per cent while Kyrgyzstan will export 30 per cent of electricity. Afghanistan will consume 300 MW of the exported energy while Pakistan will receive 1000 MW electricity.
Earlier, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held an informal meeting in Dushanbe on Thursday.
Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that CASA-1000 had proved to be a blessing as it provided an opportunity for leaders to meet, discuss and eventually move forward to resolve any issues.
President Ashraf Ghani had a chat with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as they arrived at the Quadrilateral summit after meeting President Emomali Rahmon.
Nawaz Sharif and Ashraf Ghani walked to the conference hall holding each other’s hand.
Although there was no official word about their talk, the atmospherics clearly indicated positive vibes. APP
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