TAJIKISTAN: ITS HYDROPOWER RESOURCES AND THE PROBLEMS OF THEIR USE
Aziz Niyazi, Senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies, director of the Institute of Central Asian Development Problems (Moscow, Russia)
As the supplies of fossil fuels dwindle and the attitude toward nuclear energy becomes evermore cautious, the value of water in electric power generation will steadily rise. Hydroelectric power provided 19 percent of total electricity production in 2001 (2,740 terawatt per hour, TWh), with a further 377 TWh under construction or at the planning stage. There still remains between 4,000 and 7,500 TWh of untapped hydroelectric potential.
Presently, hydropower supplies at least fifty percent of energy production in sixty-six countries, and at least 19 percent in twenty-four countries. To date, developed countries are exploiting about 70 percent of their electricity potential, whereas in developing countries, the figure is only 15 percent.
A significant rise in small hydropower is expected. Small-scale stand-alone (not connected to the grid) hydropower schemes, defined as generating less than 10 megawatts, with fewer of the problems of large schemes, can be of great benefit in the more rural and remote areas. China alone has an estimated 60,000 small hydropower schemes. Worldwide, small hydropower development is expected to grow by a further 60 percent by 2010.
Large hydropower schemes throughout the world generated a total of 2,265 TWh/year in 1995. The projected amount for 2010 is 3,990 TWh/year. In contrast, small hydropower deployed a total of 115 TWh/year in 1995, with this index to rise to 220 TWh/year in 2010. Throughout the CIS, the indices for large hydropower deployment in 1995 amounted to 160 TWh/year, and there are plans to produce 388 TWh/year in 2010, with small schemes generating 4 TWh/year and 12 TWh/year, respectively.1
On the whole, the use of hydropower to produce energy is considered environmentally safe, since compared with thermal power stations, it can reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and other atmospheric pollutants from thermal power plants, as well as minimize the pollution associated with the mining of the fossil fuels needed for them. But it would be unwise to maintain that hydropower deployment has no impact at all on the environment. Infrastructure development (the building of dams, dikes, diversions, and so on) causes the flooding of extensive woodland and farming areas and fills natural water bodies with silt. This loss of integrity alters the timing and quantity of river flows, water temperature, nutrient and sediment transport, and thus delta replenishment. This blocks fish migrations and puts water quantity and quality, habitats, floodplain fertility, fisheries, and delta economies at risk.
What is more, serious disputes that escalate into major public conflicts could flare up over the construction of large hydropower plants. Today, electric power and environmental problems are becoming embroiled in politics, economic strategy, and ethnic relations. The most graphic example of this is the situation in Tajikistan, which became a focal point for global military-political, environmental, and economic problems as early as ten years ago, problems which to the international community is only just beginning to pay serious attention.
The internecine war that broke out in the country in 1992 primarily ensued from a systemic crisis of the “new generation,” previously unknown to mankind. This republic was the first in the U.S.S.R. to take the brunt of all the problems that had been building in the delicate balance between man and nature and relating to the destructive consequences of accelerated mass industrialization for traditional society and the environment.2 The rational use of hydropower resources is a priority issue for Tajikistan, and of course it must be resolved with overall global and regional tasks in mind.
Tajikistan has been given a priceless gift—abundant supplies of fresh water. It boasts 60 percent of the region’s glaciers, and 55.4 percent of the runoff to the Aral Basin, which encompasses all of the Central Asian republics and Afghanistan, forms on its territory.3 The main runoff gathers from glacier and snowmelt and amounts to approximately 70 cubic km/year.4 According to the Tadzhikgiprovodkhoz Institute, this index is no higher than 3.5 cubic km/year in Turkmenistan, 9.5 cubic km/year in Uzbekistan, and 48.7 cubic km/year in Kyrgyzstan. Each resident of Tajikistan accounts for 7,900 cubic meters of river runoff, in Turkmenistan, this index is 700 cubic m, in Uzbekistan, 420 cubic meters, and in Kyrgyzstan, 9,940 cubic meters.
A characteristic feature of Tajikistan is the incompatibility between the natural runoff conditions and the consumer demands for water. The runoff volumes change by season, and at times to an astounding extent. For example, there is thirty-fold more water in the River Vakhsh in July than during the winter months. According to the republic’s Institute of Hydropower Engineering and Land Reclamation, 24 percent of the river runoff is used to meet economic needs, while 93 percent goes to the main consumer—agriculture. Whereby two-fold as much water is used per standard harvest unit than in other Central Asian states: each resident accounts for an average of 1,156 cubic meters of irrigation water per year. Reservoirs are used to regulate the water flow during the intensive irrigation season, including those attached to large and medium hydropower plants.
As Kh.M. Mukhabbatov, a leading Tajik specialist on the protection and use of Tajikistan’s natural resources, points out, the main drawback in exploiting reservoirs is their intensive filling, which is 2-3-fold higher than their projected volumes and lifespan. The increased turbidity of rivers, the large amount of suspensions in the water, and primarily, the high erosion of reservoir banks are taking their toll. Silting leads to a deviation in economic indices from the projected estimates and to a reduction in the lifespan of artificial reservoirs. For example, more than 70 percent of the head reservoir on the Vakhsh River became choked with silt just two years after it was built. At present, two of the largest reservoirs, one attached to the Nurek Hydropower Plant on the Vakhsh River and the other to the Kairakkum Hydropower Plant on the Syr Darya, are heavily silted. What is more, the clarified water that runs out of the reservoirs not only has a negative effect on the harvest yield of agricultural crops, but also increases the amount of water needed for irrigation.5
In terms of absolute supplies of hydropower resources, Tajikistan occupies second place in the CIS after Russia, and its prospects for generating electricity at hydropower plants are enormous. Fifty-four percent of all of Central Asia’s hydropower resources are concentrated in the republic, each square kilometer of its territory accounts for 200,000 kWh (with the average for the CIS countries being 150 kWh), and its total potential supplies amount to 32.3 million kW in capacity, or approximately 300 billion kWh in terms of energy generation.6 Only six percent of this amount is tapped. According to tentative estimates, seventy-five percent of all these resources are concentrated in high, medium and low mountainous areas, whereby small rivers account for 5-10%.
The potential of Tajikistan’s hydropower resources has been greatly overestimated. For example, we must exclude from rivers with a potential capacity of more than 100,000 kW, those located in seismic zones where earthquakes could reach a magnitude of nine points on the Richter scale, since their dam sites are considered unreliable for building large hydropower structures. Kh.M. Mukhabbatov and M.A. Burkhanova note that due to this overestimate, the capacity of useable water flows amounts to 22.6 million kW, or 198 billion kWh of potential annual electricity generation, and of this amount 19.3 million kW and 169 billion kWh, respectively, are technically feasible. Economically feasible river resources are estimated at 85 billion kWh, which constitutes approximately 30% of the republic’s potential hydropower supplies.
In the mid-1980s, the total capacity of the hydropower plants in the Tajik S.S.R. being exploited, under construction, or planned amounted to 27,615,500 kW according to some estimates, and to 13,028,800 kW according to others,7 which shows that the republic’s water flows have not been sufficiently researched.
Among the water flows with a capacity of more than 100,000 kW that are suitable for hydropower deployment, the most favorable are in the rivers of the Panj Basin, which has 42.5 billion kWh and 51.6 percent of the total potential and technical energy resources in this particular group of capacities. The Panj River, like its tributary, the Vakhsh River, is of particular interest with respect to energy use and irrigation. The Panj accounts for 29.8 percent and the Vakhsh for 32 percent of the hydropower resources of the Amu Darya Basin, which are calculated at 63,173,000 kW.8
According to the estimates of the Gidroproekt Central Asia Institute, the construction of one hydropower plant alone on the River Panj with a capacity of 5,300,000 kW and a reservoir with a volume of 28 billion cubic meters would make it possible to irrigate more than 3 million hectares of arable land in the region. The expenses will be remunerated in just two years, during the irrigation and assimilation of the first 500,000 hectares of land. In the future, a cascade of thirteen large hydropower plants with a total capacity of approximately 18 million kW and an annual production of 82 billion kWh could be built on the Panj. The largest of them would be the Dashtijumskaia, Jumarskaia, Moskovskaia, Kokchinskaia, Shirgovatskaia, and Rushanskaia schemes.
Five hydropower plants have been built on the Vakhsh: the Nurek, Golovnaia, Perepadnaia, Baipazinskaia, and Central. There are plans to erect another five, two of which are at the construction stage: the Sangutdinskaia and the Rogun. The river accounts for almost 30 percent of the republic’s hydropower resources. In terms of standard runoff capacity, it is superior to almost all the rivers in the CIS countries and building hydropower stations on it is in general economically advantageous. But the Rogun plant has encountered several problems. Its construction began in 1976. Its projected capacity is 3.6 million kW, and the planned electricity generation is 13.1 billion kWh. The hydropower plant was built as an integrated energy and irrigation complex, and putting its reservoir with a useful capacity of 8.6 cubic kilometers into operation was supposed to ensure long years of runoff management, increasing water consumption in the Amu Darya Basin from 52.2 to 59.3 cubic kilometers. Efficient management of the Vakhsh flow would make it possible to irrigate 300-400,000 hectares of new land, as well as improve the water supply to 4 million hectares of land, mainly in the middle and lower reaches of the Amu Darya. It was presumed that the Rogun Hydropower Plant would generate enough electricity to meet the peak loads in Central Asia’s joint energy system. What is more, incorporating this reservoir into the hydropower system was supposed to increase the annual energy yield at the hydropower plants located below the Vakhsh cascade to 1.16 billion kWh.
But during the second half of the 1980s, construction of this hydropower plant slowed down for general economic reasons. The project planners also began discovering several unfavorable factors relating to its erection. P.V. Florenskiy, doctor of geological and mineralogical sciences, warned of the danger of building a large hydropower plant at this particular site. The thing is that three shifting tectonic plates meet in the Pamir Region: the Indian, Turan, and the East Kazakh. This is one of the most seismically active zones in the world. Earthquakes here can reach a magnitude of nine points on the Richter scale. The hydropower plant was designed in such a way that the entire length of the reservoir’s longitudinal axis coincides with the Vakhsh fault, which forms the border between two major structural regions. If the dam burst, the entire Amu Darya valley would fall victim to devastating flooding, which could result in the deaths of up to a million people. The situation is also aggravated by the fact that deposits of gypsum and a large salt field have been found in the regions of the dam site, at the base of the dam wall, and in the faults contiguous to it. If they dissolve, they could raise the normal tectonic strain energy in the earth’s crust and trigger an earthquake. According to some seismologists, it is likely that seismic activity can also be raised by settling of the reservoir. Those in favor of the construction, on the other hand, are insisting that forming a reservoir in a high seismic zone with a consolidated rock foundation will not increase the magnitude of a potential earthquake, but will promote a more equal release of strain energy over time. This will be expressed in an increase in the force of weak earthquakes and a reduction in that of large ones, and seismic manifestations can be regulated by changing the filling and drainage conditions in the reservoir.9
Now there is concern that by stepping up management of the Amu Darya flow, the Rogun Hydropower Plant will have a detrimental effect on the conditions in the Aral Sea, the level of which dropped by 40 percent as it was during the last century. But this assertion is disputable. It was the abrupt increase in water consumption for irrigation, and its irrational and wasteful use in hydro land reclamation, industry, and for everyday needs that caused the Aral to suffer its unfortunate fate.
Resettlement of the Local Residents and Political Fervor over the “Rogun Factor”
But the socio-environmental factor deserves the most serious attention, which had escalated into a political issue by the beginning of the civil war in Tajikistan and played an immense role in raising the vehemence to a high pitch.10 The thing is that according to projected estimates, 17,100 hectares of land must be confiscated to build the Rogun Hydropower Plant. Six thousand eight hundred hectares of agricultural land will have to be flooded, 1,600 hectares of which, according to field studies conducted in 1983, constitute irrigable plough land and orchards. The problems surrounding this construction primarily affected the so-called Garm group of regions—Garm, Karategin, Tajikabad, Faizabad, Obi-Garm, Tavildara, and others—although not all of them were part of the flood zone. But it must also be kept in mind that the Tajik population in this mid-mountain region of the republic is a local ethnoregional subculture with similar dialects, common customs, and a farming way of life. The problems of one group always affect the others. Approximately 95 percent of the Tajiks in the Garm Region are peasants and craftsmen. Here communal patriarchal relations are strong, customs that have been practiced for centuries are honored, and people are distinguished by particular piety.
Traditionally the population specialized in raising vegetables, fruit, oil-bearing and grain crops. Cotton was not cultivated here. Not only local herds grazed on the extensive pastureland, but also cattle from other regions. Garm provided a significant percentage of the republic’s food. Diligence, bountiful harvests, cooperative and private trade ensured a relatively prosperous life. And construction of the Rogun Hydropower Plant did not promise any benefits for most of the population. On the contrary, sixty-two kishlaks, arable land nurtured for centuries, and many mazars, time-honored burial grounds of Muslim saints, and places renowned for their miraculous powers, were to be consumed by the reservoir of this energy monster. There were plans to move tens of thousands of people out of the area. The local residents found out about this at the end of the 1980s, and the peasants began to put up stubborn resistance. They still had painful memories of the resettlement of thousands of their fellow countrymen during the 1930s-1960s to the arid cotton-growing steppes of the Vakhsh valley, when many of the displaced persons (muhajirs) sacrificed their lives for this monopoly crop. People could not adapt and fell victim to the abrupt change in climate, the exhausting uncustomary work, and poisoning by toxic chemicals. According to the new plans, many of the mountain dwellers would once more have to move, this time to the Dangara steppes of the Kulob Region, where cotton is also the prime crop.
By 1990, 205 families had been moved out of their places of abode. Some went to Dangara, and some to areas higher than the flood zone, to regions of the Pamir area. But many houses in the Dangar Region proved unfit for habitation, where seepage from groundwater had taken its toll. It was also difficult to adjust to a different way of economic life. In the high mountain areas of the Pamir area, conflicts broke out between the displaced people and the local residents over the shortage of land and pastures. Compensation payments were often long overdue. Gradually some families began to return.
The peasants became increasingly discontent. Perestroika was already underway in the Soviet Union, and people were not afraid to openly protest. Receiving no sympathy from the powers that be, the authoritative community elders repeatedly sent complaints to Moscow, and crowds gathered at the Ostankino Television Center. Then Boris Yeltsin visited Rogun. At that time a member of the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet and engaged in construction issues, he promised the mountain dwellers assistance from the Center.
The peasants were supported by the local intelligentsia and some of the capital’s academics and cultural figures. Nor did the “democratic” opposition miss their chance to take advantage of the protest movement. The peasant movement grew into a serious political force with regional traits. Official and unofficial religious figures primarily from the Garm group of regions began to play an increasingly prominent role in it. The Rogun factor aggravated relations between the people of Garm and the Leninabad-Kulob, and at times the Gissar, economic elite, who espoused an industrial ideology and saw tradition as an obstacle to achieving progress. The conflict acquired an increasingly ethnoregional complexion, and contradictions between the values of the traditional society and industrial modernization became all the more prevalent in it.
An extensive discussion revolved around construction of the hydropower plant. Its opponents demanded reducing the height of the dam by 50 meters (according to the plans, it was supposed to be 335 m) and conducting a serious experts’ examination, taking into account the environmental, social, and economic problems that had arisen. Under pressure from Moscow and the local opposition, a special resolution was adopted on reducing the height of the dam, which made it possible to preserve some of the ancient farming land and significantly reduce the number of people that would have to be displaced. But the problem of Rogun itself was far from being resolved.
What is more, after Tajikistan declared its independence, the compromise reached was violated. The republic’s president, Rakhmon Nabiev, declared his intention to finish building the hydropower plant in accordance with the original plans. This announcement, which was made in March 1992, coincided with a toughening up of domestic policy by the country’s leadership. The struggle for power within its ruling elite became more acute. The persecuted and radicalized Islamic democratic opposition began to rally together its fellow countrymen to hold protest meetings in Dushanbe. It relied mainly on the mountain people from the Garm group of regions and Badakhshan. The other side placed its stakes on the natives of the Kulob and Leninabad regions, and the central Gissar District. Society was primarily split according to ethnoregional characteristics. Even the KGB and police were divided this way. Ideology, be it communist or democratic, no longer played a significant role. The opposing sides began taking up arms. The flywheel of terror and violence started spinning with a kind of fatal obsession. Then came the war, in which it was futile to look for who was right and who was wrong.11
Of course, Rogun is only one of the many sore points in the inter-Tajik conflict. But no one can deny that the “Rogun factor” did much to exacerbate the political situation on the eve of the civil war. What is more, by this time, a whole slew of other extremely serious socio-environmental problems had accumulated in the republic that had a profound effect on raising the pitch of the conflict and fomenting aggression in society. The unprecedented severity of the confrontation that flared up was caused by a series of dire environmental, economic, political, demographic, and spiritual-cultural crises that coincided in time and came fast on each other’s heels.
So the present author thinks it would be unwise to rush ahead with building the Rogun Hydropower Plant in the current situation, which is still far from being stable. All the pros and cons must be calmly weighed up once again. The supporters and opponents of this idea have their own powerful arguments on this account. These issues should be resolved at the professional level, without politicization, with a clear head, and ultimately within the coordinates of a general development strategy, which have still not been defined.
Let’s remember that the plans for building large hydropower plants in Tajikistan went hand in hand with the overall accelerated industrialization in the republic that occurred between the 1960s and 1980s. At that time, large metallurgical, machine-building, and chemical enterprises, the main consumers of electricity, were built and put into full-capacity operation. But the further building of such high energy-intensive industrial facilities was restricted by the republic’s natural and climatic conditions. The limit had already been reached. Of course, the existing facilities needed to be preserved, restored, and used sensibly by introducing new resource-saving production technologies at them. But these industrial enterprises, which were located in valleys that occupy a total of 7 percent of the mountainous territory, were extremely detrimental to the ecosystem. Their extreme threat to the environment was not taken into consideration, after all, Tajikistan is in a zone with the lowest self-cleaning atmospheric potential compared with other CIS republics, nor was the low self-cleaning capability of the arid soil and mountain rivers accounted for. Surface and undergroundwater sources, as well as the scarce fertile land near these production enterprises, were withdrawn from use. All of this took place against the background of the highest increase in population to occur in the Soviet Union and a decrease in arable land. Now there are 0.18 hectares of arable land, and 0.11 hectares of irrigable plough land to each resident.
The consumption of electric power and water was also increased by extending the irrigation system, which was primarily related to cultivating land for sowing cotton. Cotton’s wedge in the agricultural pie chart was brought up to 50%. Extending its cultivation area by means of land previously used for grain and fodder crops led to the formation of an economically and agronomically unstable monopoly crop economy. Cotton eliminated normal crop rotation and weakened all the other branches of the agricultural industry. Due to the irrational use of toxic chemicals, fertilizers, and irrigation water on the cotton fields, the soil became contaminated and water sources polluted. The pesticide and herbicide load on fields of commercial crops was on average 2-3-fold higher than the permissible norms, and equally excessive amounts of water were pumped into them, which is taking its toll today. Approximately half of the 740 hectares of plough land are in an unfavorable reclamation state—40% are salinized and subjected to erosion, 100,000 hectares, on which about one million people live, are affected by seepage from groundwaters, and 50% of the irrigation equipment is in need of major repair. Correspondingly, the question arises of whether it is worth taking arable land out of circulation to build reservoirs in a situation where land is at a premium. Perhaps funds and technology would be better utilized in land reclamation, as well as in the repair of existing equipment and the introduction of new advanced technologies into the irrigation system.
What is more, as Kh.M. Mukhabbatov notes, back in Soviet times the technical-economic indices and operating conditions of the Rogun Hydropower Plant were largely determined by the irrigation requirements of the other Union republics in Central Asia, in particular, Uzbekistan and Turkmenia. Hundreds of hectares of new land were to be put into agricultural circulation from creating the reservoir. But the environmental crisis in the Aral Region gave rise to a drastic reduction in the introduction of new irrigable land in this basin.
And of course the sociopolitical factor must be kept in mind. Rogun has graphically demonstrated that when adopting technical and technological decisions, the environmental and humanistic aspects cannot be ignored. A sociological experts’ examination and moral assessment are required. Public opinion must not be dismissed, even if, due to ignorance, it significantly raises the degree of risk. Ignoring public opinion could cause political, social, and ethnoregional conflicts, which could be rather destructive and drawn-out. The overall losses from them, material, as well as cultural, spiritual, intellectual, and moral, could greatly exceed the planned revenue from putting a particular project into practice.
Nor should it be forgotten that the Islamic protest movement, which escalated into a military-political one, largely involved the residents of the Garm group of regions and the people displaced from this area. It is this portion of the population, who most closely follows the traditions of their ancestors, that has been the worst affected by the excesses of industrialization. The economic and social way of life of these people was at loggerheads with the ideals of “progress” espoused by the ruling elite. We will note that in most of the Muslim world, the industrially oriented elite continues to dictate its vision of development. The modernization policy it is conducting includes social, economic, and technological processes that are destroying the age-long culture of relations among people and with their environment. This culture is traditional and its pivot is Islam. And in those places where it has put down deep roots and Muslim ethics defines people’s behavior, the protest against technocratic models of “progress” is the strongest. Mass Islamic nonconformist movements are coming to a head primarily in regions of ancient farming civilizations where a rural lifestyle is prevalent and a deep internal bond between people and nature holds sway. So in Tajikistan, a country in which an ancient Muslim peasant culture predominates, the problems of contemporary development must be resolved with utmost caution and care.
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During the post-conflict period, restoration efforts in the republic, whose development is decades behind the times, should begin with its agricultural industry. This is the main foundation of Tajikistan’s entire economy. Raising the village to a higher level of prosperity is a priority task in its revival. If this does not happen, it will be impossible to draw this traditionally agrarian country out of its economic backwardness. What is more, industry can only be developed and urban problems resolved if this is done in close harmony with the agricultural sector.
Despite the overall abundance of hydropower resources in Tajikistan, supplying rural areas with electricity, drinking water, and irrigation equipment still leaves a great deal to be desired. For example, whereas an average of 50 percent of the population throughout the republic has access to clean drinking water, this is true of only 20 percent of rural residents. Many rural areas, particularly in the mountains, do not have electricity. After the civil war, an extremely difficult situation arose in the Garm Region due to a shortage of fuel and electric power.
Since material, technical, and intellectual possibilities are limited, it is unwise to begin developing all branches of the economy at once. What is more, it is simply disastrous to use the outmoded industrial-raw material model as a point of reference. First the country must put itself on its feet, and only then take up major projects, the economic and social yield from which will not be reaped for decades. The present calls for gradual and balanced steps aimed at achieving rapid socioeconomic results. Long-term prosperity in this country can be achieved not so much from its resources, as from introducing advanced technologies, developing education and science, adopting sensible laws and implementing them with precision, making investments in the production and reprocessing of agricultural products, and investing in the light industry. A daily, albeit small, but perceptible improvement in the standard of living is the best stimulus for establishing peace. The faster poverty and impoverishment are conquered, the easier it will be to achieve stability.
Of course, top priority should be placed on developing hydropower, but this process should begin with medium and small systems. It is very encouraging that along with its military and political cooperation with Tajikistan, Russia has finally begun strengthening its economic ties with the republic. In April 2003, an agreement was reached at the governmental level on Russia’s participation in building the Sangutdinskaia Hydropower Plant. The Russian side is to invest one third of the funds in its construction. The feasibility report on the project is to be completed by 1 October, 2003. Negotiations are underway on participating in the building of other medium hydropower plants on the Vakhsh and Panj rivers. Tajik specialists are drawing up plans for building hydropower plants on the Surkhob, Obikhingou, Kafirnigan, Syr Darya, and Zerafshan rivers, and are also deciding about reconstructing and technically re-equipping old hydropower plants.
But the fastest socioeconomic yield will come from small hydropower plants. They are built rapidly and with the minimum outlays. And in terms of environmental parameters they are the most suitable for the mountain regions. The potential of small rivers conducive for building small power stations in areas of decentralized energy supply in Tajikistan amount to 3,200 MW, or 10% of the region’s hydro resources.12 Specialists estimate that assimilating only 10% of this potential would make it possible to provide up to 75 percent of small population settlements and agricultural facilities with electricity.13 As early as the 1980s, the Zhuk Gidroproekt Institute and the Sel’energoproekt organization drew up a development plan for small hydropower plants in the Staromatchin and Garm regions of Tajikistan until 2010, where the total capacity of these plants was estimated at 140 MW, with an annual production of 850 million kWh. According to other development plans drawn up by the Tadzhikgidroenergoproekt Institute, more than 100 small hydropower plants can be built in the Garm Region. The installed capacity of the fourteen main plants is estimated at 63,430 kW, with an average annual production of electric power of 348 million kWh.
Tajikistan also has the gift of another energy source—the sun. Its rays can be used extremely efficiently along with fuel stations and small hydropower plants. Ways to use this source of energy are already being pursued in the republic, and there are also possibilities for using wind power and bioenergy.
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In summary, we will note that Tajikistan has an extremely high natural potential for developing advanced energy technologies. The republic is the first in the CIS to encounter a systemic crisis of the “new generation,” but is the first to be able to show an example of how to make the transition to sustainable development, which is particularly important for countries with a predominantly Muslim population that are increasingly coming up against similar problems.
Tajikistan’s experience is a graphic example of how outmoded ways of economic development and the power industry associated with it could have a negative effect on the socioeconomic system and how, on the contrary, alternative energy sources can become a stabilizing factor.
Another conclusion we draw from Tajikistan’s example is that power engineering is directly related to the problem of rational use of water resources. But this problem cannot be resolved constructively without revising the industrial-consumer development model, which is based on the excessive consumption of natural resources.
We are witnessing an intense struggle for world energy resources, and in the near future there could be an equally gruesome battle over water. The world is becoming more aware that water and energy problems are top priorities for global security. On the initiative of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov, the U.N. declared 2003 the International Year of Freshwater. I do not think this is coincidental, since this country has suffered through an internecine war, the deep-seated reasons for which lay in the acute socio-environmental crisis it was experiencing. The inter-Tajik conflict sounded the alarm for the whole of mankind. It is a pity it is falling on so many deaf ears. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in 2002 in Johannesburg, the U.S. boycotted the discussion on world energy problems. But the time will definitely come when the world community also declares the year of clean energy.
1 See: Water for People, Water for Life. The United Nations World Water Development Report. Review, Ves Mir Publishers, Moscow, 2003, pp. 21-22.
2 For more detail, see: A. Niyazi, “Tadzhikistan: Konflikt regionov na fone sotsial’no-ekologicheskogo krizisa,” in: Ekologiia, obshchestvo i traditsiia: sotsialnye i politicheskie krizisy v SNG v kontekste razrusheniia prirodnoi sredy (Tajikistan i rossiiskii Sever), ed. by M. Olcott and A. Malashenko, Academic Reports, No. 15, Moscow Carnegie Center, Moscow, 1997, pp. 8-41; A. Niyazi, “Tadzhikistan: ot sistemnogo krizisa k ustoichivomu razvitiiu,” Tsentral’naia Azia, No. 3 (9), 1997, pp. 60-66; A. Niyazi, “Problemy bezopasnosti i sistemnye krizisy v musul’manskikh regionakh SNG,” in: Tadzhikistan-Rossiia: problemy bezopasnosti v Tsentral’noi Azii (materialy mezhdunarodnoi konferentsii), Center of Strategic and Political Research, Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow – Center for Strategic Research under the Tajikistan President, Dushanbe, 2001, pp. 40-49.
3 These data were presented in reports by Ia.E. Pulotov “The Rational Use of Water Resources—the Foundations of Sustainable Development” and T.O. Salimov “The Great Silk Road: Present-Day Environmental Aspects” at a conference dedicated to the International Year of Freshwater, Russian Academy of State Service under the Russian President, Moscow, 15 May, 2003.
4 See: Report of the Asian Development Bank “Environmental Profile of Tajikistan.” Asian Development Bank, 2000, p. 11.
5 See: Kh.M. Mukhabbatov, Prirodno-resursniy potentsial gornykh regionov Tadzhikistana, Granitsa Publishers, Moscow, 1999, p. 151.
6 See: Ibid., p. 177.
7 See: M.A. Burkhanova, Problemy ratsional’nogo ispol’zovaniia energeticheskikh resursov Tadzhikskoi S.S.R., Donish Publishers, Dushanbe, 1986, p. 25.
8 See: Resursy poverkhnostnykh vod S.S.S.R.: Sredniaia Azia, Issue 3, Vol. 14, Leningrad, 1971, p. 93.
9 See: B. Iunusov, “Rogunskaia GES: Pravda i domysly,” Daryo (Dushanbe), No. 1, 1997, p. 17 B.
10 For more detail, see: A. Niyazi, “Rogunskaia GES v Tadzhikistane: sotsial’no-politicheskie i ekologicheskie aspekty problemy,” in: Postsovetskoe musul’manskoe prostranstvo (religiia, politika, ideologiia), Collection of articles edited by V.V. Naumkin, Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Center for Strategic and International Research, Moscow, 1994, pp. 195-200.
11 A great deal has been written about the specifics and dynamics of the inter-Tajik conflict. See, in particular: V.I. Bushkov, D.V. Mikul’skiy, Anatomiia grazhdanskoi voiny v Tadzhikistane (etnosotsial’nye protsessy i politicheskaia borba, 1992-1995), Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Institute for Practical Oriental Studies, Moscow, 1996; Mezhtadzhikskiy konflikt: put’ k miru, Collection, ed. by M. Olimov, Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Shark Information Analysis Center, Moscow, 1998; A. Niyazi, “Tadzhikistan: konflikt regionov,” Vostok, No. 2, 1997, pp. 94-107.
12 See: M.A. Burkhanova, op. cit. pp. 79-80.
13 See: Kh. Mukhabbatov, Kh. Umarov, “Ekonomika, chelovek, priroda—problemy vzaimodeistviia,” Pamir (Dushanbe), No. 3, 1990, p. 180.