Rivers, lakes and glaciers of Tajikistan form more than half of the total volume of hydro resources in Central Asia. Experts say that Tajikistan currently uses only 5% of its hydropower potential. The country's leadership believes that it is the hydro resources that will help bring the economy out of the crisis.
President of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon said at a session of parliament on April 30 that the country needed to mobilize investments in the amount of $ 1.3 billion to build new and restore existing hydropower plants. Investments in this volume will be enough to ensure the country's energy security in the near future and stable export of Tajik electricity to neighboring countries - Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India.
At the same session of parliament, the proposal of the President of Tajikistan about the construction of a water pipeline from the high-mountainous Lake Sarez in the Pamirs to provide the countries of the region with clean drinking water sounded almost sensational. Rakhmon added: “If the states of Central Asia reach an agreement, we are ready to create a consortium that will help international organizations implement an ambitious humanitarian project. Every resident of the region will benefit from this. ”
The country's leadership is trying to attract foreign investment, but over the years of stability after the civil war (1992-1997), not a single ambitious economic project was implemented. In 2004, the Government of Tajikistan and the Russian Aluminum company (RUSAL) signed an agreement to resume construction of the Rogun hydropower station. RUSAL acted as an investor, offering to allocate from $ 1 to $ 1.5 billion not only for the construction of hydroelectric power plants, but also for the arrangement of the entire generating structure of Rogun, which was to become the largest energy facility in Central Asia. Rogun was called "a symbol of strategic partnership between Dushanbe and Moscow." However, the resumption of construction work at the Rogun hydropower plant was dragging on: it was necessary to carry out a feasibility study, assess possible environmental risks and conduct a lot of social activities. In 2006, the Tajik authorities quarreled with the leadership of RUSAL. The height and type of the dam has become a stumbling block, and a number of environmental and social aspects have also emerged. Tajikistan’s Ministry of Energy Specialist Homijon Orifov told a reporter: “Tajikistan needs Rogun to ensure national energy security; RUSAL this object is necessary for profit in the shortest possible time. "
In February 2007, the Ministry of Energy announced its intention to independently complete the construction of Rogun. The statement was made absurdly against the background of the IMF’s strong recommendations to Tajikistan on the need to reduce external borrowing. Other foreign investors are not in a hurry to invest in the construction of Rogun.
However, it cannot be said that the country's energy sector is not developing at all. In 2005, construction of the Sangtuda-1 HPP on the Vakhsh River, 200 km south of Dushanbe, was resumed. Design capacity - 670 MW; the total cost of construction is $ 712 million. At the same time, 75% of Sangtudy-1 shares belong to RAO UES of Russia, and 25% to Tajikistan. In addition, international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank provide large grants for the restoration of generating facilities and the construction of new power lines.
The volume of Lake Sarez is 17 billion cubic meters. The length of the reservoir is 75 km., And the depth in the central part is more than 500 m. The water finds a way out of the body of a natural dam 550 meters high consisting of stone blocks and soil (scientists call the Usoy dam). Over the years, various scenarios of potential catastrophes have been put forward - both scientifically based and completely ridiculous.
Gulsara Pulatova, Senior Advisor, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, ISDR), says that the “right bank landslide” is not a real threat. This is evidenced by geophysical measurements taken in the framework of the First Risk Reduction Project, implemented with the support of the World Bank. The volume of soil in the "landslide body" is only 0.25 (and not 2.2, as previously assumed) cube. km The right bank is stable; around the perimeter of the "landslide" installed the latest measuring instruments, readings from which are taken regularly. In addition, the water level in the lake is 50 m below the dam crest, and the likelihood of “overflowing the dam” as a result of the soil falling into the lake is negligible.
Ten years ago, the First International Conference on Reducing the Risk of Lake Sarez Breakthrough was held in Dushanbe. After this event, with the support of donor organizations and research institutes, many scientific missions were organized with the participation of leading experts from around the world. In 2002, under the auspices of the World Bank, a risk reduction program was launched.
Now the "behavior of the lake" is conducted around the clock. The station built on Sarez, in real time via satellite, to the administrative centers of Gorno-Badakhshan and the Usoy Department of the Emergency Committee located in Dushanbe, receives digital information on the slightest changes in water level, coastal conditions, etc. The population of the Bartang villages has been trained; people know how to act correctly and quickly in case of danger; built mini warehouses with food, medicines and essential supplies. $ 4.3 million was allocated for the implementation of the entire Program; It ended in December 2006.
On May 22-23, 2007, the Second International Conference on Lake Sarez Problems was held in Dushanbe, where the results of research conducted over the past decade were discussed, as well as initiatives to implement long-term solutions aimed at lowering the water level in Lake Sarez and using its hydropower potential.
For decades, the volume of water mass of the lake has remained almost unchanged. However, over the past 13 years, the water level has risen sharply twice - in 1994 and 2005–2006. The last rise of the water level in the lake by 6 meters for a month and a half led to the emergence of new sources of water leaving the dam body (springs), which, in turn, provoked mudslides that destroyed several infrastructure facilities in the Bartang valley (in particular, the across the Murghab River a few kilometers from the Usoi Dam).
At the Second Conference, it was said about the need to bring Sarez to a safe state, namely, the construction of a drainage channel to reduce the water pressure on the Usoy Dam body and regulate the flow in the reservoir. Scientists-hydraulic builders say that the water resources of Sarez can be used to produce electricity.
The first proposal for the use of the Sarez hydro potential was made in 1938. Serious engineering studies to reduce the water level in the lake and the construction of an additional dam in the Bartang gorge have been conducted since 1988. And the new calculations carried out within the framework of the World Bank Program confirm the profitability of the construction of the branch canal and hydroelectric power station. The construction of the entire complex will require from $ 112 to $ 297 million (depending on the complexity of the design development and technical reliability of the facilities). The length of the diversion channel should be approximately 4 km. Reducing the water level in Sarez Lake by 50 meters will ensure its full safety and will take 5-6 years. At the initial stage it is planned to conduct a feasibility study.
The water reserves of Sarez would be useful not only for providing electricity to residents of all villages in the Bartang Valley, but also to fill the reservoir with the designed Dashti-Jum hydroelectric station, which Tajikistan plans to build in the lower reaches of the Pyanj.
The construction of the diversion canal and the Sarez hydroelectric station is complicated by the lack of a road in the Bartang gorge for the delivery of building materials and equipment. About 150 km from the administrative center of Rushan to the Usoi Dam along the Murgab riverbed. This distance so far can be overcome only on a full-drive car. Construction of one kilometer of the road in such conditions will cost from $ 400 to $ 700 thousand with a width of the roadway 12 m.
“The study of the 1911 deep earthquake that triggered the emergence of a unique lake and the long-term results of the Usoy Dam geophysical studies are unique and can be used in the design and construction of sustainable artificial dams in seismic regions of the planet” Lake Sarez, Academician Sabit Negmatullaev.
Alessandro Palmiieri, World Bank Lead Specialist on Dams, speaks about the need to monitor all hydroplotins in Tajikistan. According to the requirements of international conventions, any artificial dam with a height of more than 15 m must be equipped with a monitoring system. Tajikistan has ratified these conventions, however, the republic does not have funds to restore the existing and create new surveillance systems.
Tajikistan is located at the crossroads of the geopolitical interests of Russia, the United States, Iran and China. Tajikistan and its closest neighbors, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, sometimes have problems with the seasonal distribution of water flow. Recall that the main glaciers and rivers feeding the Amu Darya and Syr Darya (the two largest rivers in the region flowing into the Aral Sea) are located in Tajikistan. President Emomali Rakhmon has repeatedly appealed to the international community calling for the need to solve the water problem in Central Asia by joint efforts. The idea of creating a Water Consortium sounded many times. In 2003, an International Forum on Freshwater was held in Dushanbe, which brought together participants from 53 countries around the world, to spend huge amounts of money ... Experts state that, unfortunately, most of the ideas put forward at such events remain only on paper - ambitions politicians interfere with the implementation of the recommendations of scientists.