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Tajik Hydropower Station To Displace Thousands


The Roghun dam will block the Vakhsh River, seen on the left, and flood this construction site below the town of Roghun.

The Roghun dam will block the Vakhsh River, seen on the left, and flood this construction site below the town of Roghun.

DUSHANBE -- Tajik Labor Minister Makhmadamin Makhmadaminov says that thousands of people are being relocated in order to complete construction of the Roghun hydropower plant, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Makhmadaminov said the resettlement process would take at least until the end of 2010.

He said that that about 1,500 families with 6,538 members would be moved, and that "almost 453 families" have already been moved.

"The Tajik government and local authorities have a scheme for resettling these people, who will receive onetime financial help, low-interest loans, and other means that government can provide," Makhmadaminov added.

Gulnisso Rakhmatova, a resident of the Nurobod district east of the dam, told RFE/RL that she will be displaced by the construction.

"They offer arid places that don't have enough water, we don't like those places. We want them to give us land here in our mountainous region, because we are farmers and we want to plant orchards, vegetables, and continue our relevant work," Rakhmatova said.

"Now we earn money by selling fruit from our orchard. I don't have a son who could go to Russia and send me money."

Construction of the Roghun plant was begun in 1976, but work has been consistently interrupted because of financial constraints, various natural disasters, and concerns raised by Uzbekistan.

Uzbek officials are worried that the dam will reduce the flow of water on the Vakhsh River, which is vital for irrigating the country's cotton fields.

The estimated cost of the plant is $3 billion. If it is completed, the Roghun dam will be the highest in the world.

Tajikistan suffers severe energy shortages every year.
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