Water deficit aggravates situation in Central Asia

Kirgizia’s people will soon face a severe alternative: whether to take care of the prospective harvest or to have a stable supply of electricity in their houses. This is based on a recent official statement from the republic’s authorities. According to the official data, the water reserves at the Toktogulskaya hydroelectric power plant have reached a critical level. The plant will be stopped in several months if electricity is consumed at the current rate. This will entail de-energizing, not only most houses in the republic, but also will stop water supply to hundreds of hectares of arable lands in neighboring countries.

The critical situation is explained by several objective reasons, including natural ones. Recent years have seen a shortage of water in the republic: as scientists have forecasted, the glacier areas have reduced, the activity of thawing has been reduced. The precipitation is forecasted to be at a low level. However, if there were no political fights between the neighboring countries, Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, and Kirgizia, the water obtained from precipitation would be enough.

We have already mentioned the continued natural gas disconnections (gas is transported from Uzbekistan to Kirgizia). Three years running, Kazakhstan has failed to observe its target-goals for coal and mazut supplies for Kirgizia. In accordance with the agreements concluded between the three countries, the energy resources were to save water consumption from the Toktogulskaya storage pool. However, as the fuel was not supplied, Kirgizia had to maximally use the turbines of the hydroelectric power plant to keep the houses warm. Because of this, the water saved for watering was used for the power units.

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan felt the consequences of such actions last summer: they received less water than was expected. Today’s situation is even worse. It is not summer so far, but the watering reserves are scanty.

Kirgizia, with an intention to preserve friendly relations with its neighbors, decided to resort to extreme measures. Starting with February, electricity consumption has beet limited. A great part of the Chuyskaya region and districts in Bishkek are de-energized for several hours every day. However, the measure has not improved the situation.

In addition, Kazakhstan’s withdrawal from the Central Asian energy system also worsened the situation. It may entail lamentable consequences: there are millions of farmers in the Fergana valley whose lives depend upon watering. Even the United Nations has tried to prevent a conflict arising in the region. A consulting council of the special program designed for Central Asia economies took place in February in Bishkek. However, the council brought no results, as Uzbekistan refused to participate in it and sent only its observers to Bishkek. So, this summer a new aggravation wave is to be expected between the neighboring countries. But as the time has shown, the conflict brings neither water, nor happiness to the people.

Yury Razgulyayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kirgizia

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/19/37275.html

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