Central Asia to Chitral: Talks on power import start in Dushanbe today

Asif leaves to hold deliberations over laying transmission lines.

Zafar Bhutta July 21, 2014


Pakistan and Tajikistan are set to hold talks in Dushanbe to discuss the possibility of laying power transmission lines from Central Asia to Chitral for supply of 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

Commissions, constituted by the two countries, would meet on Tuesday (today) in Dushanbe for the second Central Asia-South Asia (Casa) 1,000 power project, sources say. Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif left for Dushanbe on Monday.

Pakistan is already working on the first Casa-1,000 power import project with Tajikistan.

Of the commissions, Pakistan had formed one, headed by Khawaja Asif, while another was constituted by Tajikistan, officials said. They agreed to establish the bodies during a visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Dushanbe in June in order to cooperate in the energy sector.

Officials familiar with the developments said the government would have to conduct studies to determine the possibility of laying transmission lines from Central Asia to northern areas.

Tajikistan has a huge hydropower potential and seeks to help ease energy problems in Pakistan.

“We have the capacity to export an additional 1,000MW of electricity to Pakistan through the Chitral route that will help our brotherly country overcome the power crisis,” a Tajik embassy official said.

“We also want to expand energy cooperation by laying a pipeline for export of gas to meet energy needs of the South Asian state.”

According to diplomatic sources, Tajikistan also contains huge reserves of oil and gas and could export gas by laying a pipeline, on the model of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) pipeline.

Under the second power supply project called Casa-2, transmission lines will pass through a small border area of Afghanistan and reach Chitral, which is 15 km from the Tajik border.

“The project, named “Rogun-Khorog-Vakhan-Chitral” and developed in the early 1990s, had encouraged interest from some countries and international financial institutions, which were keen to become part of it,” a diplomatic source said.

Tajikistan, Pakistan and other participating countries have signed a financing deal with the World Bank and other multilateral donors will also be approached for funding the power project.

The project is estimated to cost around $240.5 million covering transmission lines to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The two sides will also discuss the progress on first Casa-1,000 power project for which the World Bank has approved financing. This will ensure a steady source of revenue for the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, the weakest economies in Central Asia, and requires no new investment in power generation because it uses surplus water that would otherwise be wasted.

Tajik embassy officials said the project would not only ease electricity shortages in Pakistan, but would also replace fuel-based electricity generation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It will establish Afghanistan as a viable transit country and offer transmission capacity for other countries during off-peak season. It will also create a viable governance mechanism to build confidence among neighbours.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.

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