Western Tajikistan, including the capital Dushanbe, the town of Tursunzade and several major factories have been cut off from gas supplies since Wednesday, said Odiljon Salimjonov, a representative of the state gas distributing company Tajikgaz.
Officials of the Uzbek state gas transport company Uztransgaz said on a government Web site Thursday that the supplies were stopped after "repeated warnings" over what they said was Tajikistan's US$7.3 million debt for gas delivered this year.
Salimjonov, however, said that as of June 1 the Tajik debt amounted to US$3 million.
Both sides said that after the gas cut, Tajikistan blocked the gas pipeline that goes through a stretch of Tajik land to deliver gas to eastern Uzbek regions. Uztransgaz said the move was illegal and demanded the transit be resumed.
Under a US$40 million contract between the two ex-Soviet republics Uzbekistan is to supply Tajikistan with 730 million cubic meters of natural gas in 2006.
Uztransgaz said it already delivered to Tajikistan nearly a half of that amount but has been paid only US$11.5 million.
Tajikistan, one of the poorest post-Soviet countries, heavily depends on Uzbek gas deliveries.
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