Tuesday, June 19, 2012

News Item : Vice Speaker of Uzbek Parliament calls on Kyrgyzstan to abandon project of building Kambarata hydropower stations

Water is the lifeblood of Uzbeekistan and particularly the western areas such as Karakalpakstan. Blocking vital flows for questionable power stations in highly vulnerable areas is as such a critical national issue. I republish a recent commentary by the Vice Speaker of Uzbek Parliament and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Central Council of the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan Boriy Alikhanov who has called on Kyrgyzstan to abandon the controversial project of building the Kambarata hydropower stations a long abandoned Soviet scheme. His most pressing concern is that the cascade of Kambarata stations upstream from Uzbekistans populous Ferghana valley is located in a critically dangerous 9-10-point seismic zone.

Key parts of Boriy Alikhanov statement translated into english follows.

"Toktogul water reservoir with capacity of 19.5 billion cubic meters of water is the subject to increased risk, since the breakthrough of a dam can cause flooding and destruction of 50 thousand square kilometers, including the entire eastern and north-eastern part of the Fergana Valley, and the deaths of millions of people. Kambarata hydropower stations are objects that increase the overall risk of catastrophe. The consistent location of these high-pressure facilities significantly increases the risk of disasters, as a breakthrough in the cascade of Kambarata dams is very likely to lead to disaster at the Toktogul hydropower station. It becomes obvious that the construction and operation of water facilities in the seismically dangerous area of Naryn River Valley poses a threat to the appearance of a cascade effect of destruction, when a slight break in one place will cause a chain reaction with the occurrence of uncontrollable flow of water and mud weight. This represents a huge threat to the safety of downstream areas of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan,"

He has also recalled that in accordance with international law, the requirements of the UN Convention "On Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes" (1992) and "On the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses" (1997), before implementation of planned measures, which may have significant adverse effects on other countries, a watercourse State must promptly forward a notice to the countries."This notification is accompanied by technical data and information, including environmental impact assessment in order to enable the notified States to evaluate the possible effects of planned measures. The Geneva Convention on the Impact of Hydropower Production to Other States also points out that in case a country wishes to carry out the development of electricity, which can cause serious harm to any Contracting State, the States concerned shall enter into negotiations with a view to concluding an agreement that allows for such development. The position of the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan in this regard remains unchanged, it proposes to abandon the implementation of projects that threaten life of millions of people in the lower reaches of Transboundary Watercourses and supports options that are not related to risk of negative consequences"

Source: Central Asia News 28 June 2012