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Tajikistan Reimposes Electricity Rationing

The Nurek hydroelectric power station on the Vakhsh River, in better days (file photo)
The Nurek hydroelectric power station on the Vakhsh River, in better days (file photo)
DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's state energy supplier has reintroduced electricity rationing on the eve of a major national holiday, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Odinamahmad Chorshanbiev, an official with the state electricity company Barqi Tojik, confirmed today the power reductions began on March 20 as people prepared to celebrate Norouz, the traditional Central Asian New Year celebration.

The official Norouz holiday is today and Tajiks have been given -- for the first time -- the remainder of the week as official holidays to celebrate Norouz.

Chorshabiev apologized to Tajiks for the inconvenience the power outage might cause during the Norouz celebrations.

Chorshanbiev said the main reason for the reintroduction of power rationing in the country is the abnormally weak water flow in the Vakhsh River, currently at 63-70 cubic meters per second, or some 3.5 times less than it was 70 years ago.

Barqi Tojik officials said that there are no limitations on power to strategic buildings in Dushanbe, but during the night residential buildings in the capital will have electricity for only two hours.

A man named Mahmad from the Rudaki district, bordering Dushanbe, told RFE/RL that people there had just two hours of power in the past day. He said that creates severe problems for families with small children. But he added that people are glad they have warm weather and don't need electricity to heat their homes.

Abdukarim, who lives in a remote village in the southern Shuroobod district of Khatlon Province, told RFE/RL that people in his district have had no electricity for the past three days.

In the spring and summer, Tajik hydropower plants generate a huge amount of electricity that is exported to neighboring countries. But in the autumn and winter, especially if the summer was dry and the water level in reservoirs is low, electricity is rationed for about six months.

This winter, Dushanbe and the provincial main cities did not impose regular power cuts on residents, while smaller towns had electricity for about 10 hours a day.

Analysts say the warm, rainy weather is the main factor behind the original easing of the electricity rationing.

Observers recalled the record cold winter of 2008-09, when sub-zero temperatures drove up electricity consumption and caused an energy crisis that left even Dushanbe with severe power shortages.

Read more in Tajik here