“Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant can lead
to a terrible disaster for the entire region of Central Asia”
The well-known Russian socio-political newspaper “Federalnaya gazeta” published an article by the editor Zulfiya Bonoeva headlined “Rogun project - a catastrophe for Central Asia”.
The author raises outstanding issues of current agenda – the use of water, construction of large hydropower facilities on transboundary rivers and their destructive impact on the ecosystem of the region.
The article notes that in recent years there have been occurring many natural cataclysms. This is evidenced by global climate change, natural and manmade disasters on a largest ever scale, and, as a result, many human casualties.
In this context, the author notes that the construction of a giant dam - the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) - on the river Vakhsh, can lead to a terrible catastrophe for the entire Central Asian region and threaten the lives of 50 million of its inhabitants.
The article offers the information communicated by the academician, honorary director of the Institute of Seismology of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan Mr Sabit Negmatullaev. He notes that on the territory of Tajikistan the earthquakes with magnitude of about 9 points were recorded in 1907 in Karatag, in 1911 in Pamir and in 1949 in Hait. These earthquakes were equivalent in strength to the Japanese earthquake of March this year. The academician predicts that over the next ten years we should expect strong underground fluctuations in the Pamir-Hindu Kush mountain site.
“In the event of a major earthquake, like the Japanese, a sharp increase in pressure will occur on the dam with over 335 meters height caused by movable bases and the enormous pressure of the water column. It is clear that the dam can not withstand such combination of load, and while collapsing, it will trigger a real tsunami. The breakthrough of the dam will lead to a hitherto unknown disaster for Central Asia and, above all, for Tajikistan itself... As a result, all the remaining hydrosystems of the Vakhsh cascade will be destroyed, dozens of towns and villages will be flooded in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan”, the article says.
The Russian newspaper writes that in the case of destruction of the dam of the Rogun HPP, the wave, which would rush down the Vakhsh stream, will be at least 100 meters high and by its destructive power will exceed the Japanese tsunami many times.
The article quotes the opinion of Pierre-Emmanuel Tomman, a renowned expert, professor of the Paris Institute of Geopolitics, who has underlined that yearning to implement the utopian hydropower projects in Central Asia linked in particular with the construction of huge hydropower structures on transboundary rivers, is crude in terms of consequences they may lead.
In particular, P-E.Tomman noted that “the intention of Tajikistan to implement the construction of the Rogun HPP is extremely risky by nature”. He has urged everyone, who is set to implement similar projects, to listen to the voice of reason and address all the issues based on generally accepted norms and principles of international law.
The author stresses that the construction of the Rogun HPP not only poses a huge risk and danger of manmade disaster, but also can have a detrimental effect on the glaciers, which feed the river Vakhsh since the ancient times. In 1958 the “patriarch” of the Central Asian hydrology Vladimir Schulz warned that because of the rise of humidity the temperature in the mountains will invariably rise, which will lead to melting of glaciers.
In conclusion the article notes that according to leading experts in the field of hydropower problems the issues of generating energy could be well resolved through construction of small hydropower plants, which do not alter the river beds, while the cost and construction time are more economically attractive.