DUSHANBE, August 15, 2011 – A World Bank Team of experts has completed its 10-day visit to Tajikistan to review the progress of the Assessment Studies for the proposed Rogun Project. The team was accompanied by the two independent Panels of Experts - the Engineering and Dam Safety Panel and the Environment and Social Panel, whose role is to ensure that international standards of design, risk evaluation and impact assessment are met.
During the visit, the experts visited the Rogun site, communities residing within the proposed reservoir area, the Nurek HPP and the Vakhsh River basin, and held a number of working meetings with representatives of the Government of Tajikistan, Rogun Joint Stock Company and Barki Tajik, and the two international consulting firms who are conducting the Assessment Studies.
The Bank Team has concluded that the Assessment Studies, which started in March 2011, are making notable progress. In a period of about five months, the international consultants have collected and analyzed a large amount of available data and studies, and have produced several initial assessments and reports. The assessments have provided inputs relating to the initial environmental and social screening, design criteria, technical specifications for additional geotechnical investigations, methodologies for evaluating the operation of the Vakhsh cascade, and an assessment of an intermediate height dam as a stand-alone project. Initial estimates of high floods were found to be generally in line with current estimates, and critical site investigations could be completed earlier than previously expected. The initial assessments also identified aspects that require further review and analysis.
Among other findings and discussions, the international consultants undertaking the Techno-Economic Assessment Study concluded that starting immediate construction of an initial stage of the proposed Rogun HPP with an intermediate height dam of 120 meters (up to El. 1110 m) is not recommended, primarily due to the heavy sediment load carried by the Vakhsh River. The Panels of Experts and the Bank Team concurred with this assessment and recommended to move forward expeditiously with the comprehensive technical, economic, environmental and social assessment of the full-height dam. In this regard, the good progress of the on-going assessment studies provides a solid basis for comprehensive assessment of the full height dam, which could take from 6 to 8 months to complete.
The work on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment has, in general, progressed well and disclosure of the full assessment is expected during the first half of 2012 for further discussion and consultation. The Bank Team acknowledged the Government’s commitment and efforts in relation to resettlement, noted several elements of good practice in this work, and looks forward to continued progress to meet international standards.
The World Bank continues to share information on the Assessment Studies with riparians and other stakeholders. A second information sharing meeting is planned to be held in September/October 2011 to review the Environmental and Social Screening Report currently under preparation.
This visit was part of the process to carry out the two Assessment Studies for the proposed Rogun HPP – the Techno-Economic Assessment Study and the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. Earlier this year, based on a competitive selection, the studies were contracted to two international firms – a consortium led by Coyne & Bellier for the Techno-Economic Assessment, and Poyry for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
The World Bank and the Government of Tajikistan last year reached an understanding that no new construction would commence until after the Assessment Studies have been shared and discussed with riparians, and reviewed by the Panels of Experts to determine feasibility. It was also agreed that there would be no further resettlement from the proposed reservoir area until there is a resettlement framework in place.
The World Bank is also currently preparing a power supply options study for Tajikistan. This study will assess the energy supply options available to Tajikistan taking into account power, economic, environmental, social, and water management considerations. The World Bank’s overall engagement in the energy sector supports the Government of Tajikistan’s strategy to ensure reliable supply to consumers, deal with the severe winter energy shortages, reduce electricity system losses and strengthen financial management system to improve the financial condition of the energy sector, and develop a regional trade scheme to achieve sustainable export of summer surplus electricity.