Energy ambitions fuel Central Asian rivalry

Construction on new hydroelectric dam stirs Tajik-Uzbek tensions in dispute over shared natural resources.

    Tajikistan has accused neighbouring Uzbekistan of imposing an economic blockade in a dispute over shared natural resources between the former Soviet states.

    This blockade includes ending all freight at the border with Uzbekistan and a cut-off of vital gas supplies by Uzbekistan to the Tajik nation.

    The mountainous state wants to ramp up construction of hyrdroelectric plants and store water from the nation's 25,000 rivers to power them, but downstream, Uzbekistan says the plans by Tajikistan would cut off a water supply they rely on for irrigation.

    As part of the Soviet Union the neighbouring republics freely shared their resources, but since independence in 1991 both nations have pursued individual energy programs.

    The construction of the Roghun hydroelectric dam in Tajikistan - at a projected 13b kWh of electricity per year, officials say it could one day make Tajikistan an energy exporter in the region - has raised fears that the blocking of Vakhsh River would greatly reduce water supplies to farms in Uzbekistan.

    Al Jazeera's Robin Forestier-Walker reports from inside the Nurek hydroelectric station on Tajikistan's ambitions of energy independence.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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