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Tajik Official Blames Power Rationing On Water Shortage

Cooking by fire in western Tajikistan.
DUSHANBE -- Tajik Energy and Industry Minister Gul Sherali says a lack of water in reservoirs is responsible for the rationing of electricity in Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Sherali said on April 7 that the water level at the Nurek hydropower plant had fallen to a critically low level, which is the main reason Tajikistan cannot generate enough electricity for the country.

The Tajik government announced on March 18 that electricity would be rationed.

Consumers have power during the daytime in Dushanbe, the capital, while power to other parts of the country is distributed sporadically.

He said the flow of water in the Vakhsh River is currently 250-260 cubic meters per second, compared with 400-450 cubic meters per second this time last year.

Sherali added that the unseasonably cold weather has delayed the melting of the mountain snow, which accounts for the reduced flow of the Vakhsh River.

He said Nurek currently produces 29.9 million kilowatt (kW) hours of electricity per day, of which 16 million kW hours are used by the aluminum giant Talco, the country's largest industry.

Sherali predicted that the power deficit will vanish once the weather warms up, though he said the problem will only be solved temporarily.

He said that in order to permanently resolve the country's power problem, Tajikistan needs to complete construction of the Sangtuda-2 hydropower station -- an Tajik-Iranian joint venture -- and the first generating line of the Roghun hydropower plant.

Sherali added that renovation of one of the two Soviet-era outlet tunnels at Roghun has been completed and some 6,000 engineers and construction workers are now working on the second tunnel.

He said if the renovation work continues at its current pace, Roghun will start generating electricity in 2 1/2 years.

Read more in Tajik here