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Problems Concerning Construction of the Kambarata Hydropower Station-1 in Kyrgyzstan

By S.Zhigarev, Director of OJSC “Gidroproject” 

"Pravda Vostoka", 21 March 2009

Taking a floor at the Fifth World Water Forum on March 16 this year the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Igor Chudinov stated that the “construction of the Kambarata Hydropower Stations, which are located atop the Toktogul water reservoir has been started yet in the period of former Soviet Union and had gone through examination in the interests of all then the Central Asian republics”. The assertion is serious which requires clarification and clear understanding of the essence of the issue under discussion.

First, Igor Chudinov is indeed right that the elaboration of the project of the Kambarata Hydropower Station has been started based on the resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Council of Ministers of the USSR of October 9, 1980 which had envisaged the main directions of development of the Soviet Union’s hydropower sector for 1981-1990.

In line with this resolution, on March 27, 1984 the Ministry of Energy and Electrification of the USSR issued the order. At that document the Soviet ministry approved just the substantiating materials of drafting and constructing the Kambarata Hydropower Station-1 and Kambarata Hydropower Station-2. That was it – nothing more or less. In fact, this project is one of those many in the series of “great constructions of communism” born during the “flourishing” of the Soviet totalitarian epoch one of the main principles of which stood as follows: “We cannot wait for bounties from nature but our task is to take them from it” and did accompany with a total violence both over ecology and people.

Second, as far as the so-called examination is concerned, then such thesis is not true in any way. Reference to the “examination” of that time, which in fact has not been the case since it was the very time, when no one has had a right to question the resolutions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Council of Ministers of the USSR, - is far from the truth. The ideological cliché “The plans of the party are the plans of the people” substituted for any examinations and has been a directive for implementation, even of the most absurd decision, but the notion of ecology existed in the Soviet lexicon to refer to the machinations of “the enemies of the Soviet power”, who have ventured the dissent, let it even be in the area of protection of natural resources.

The times about which the representative of the Kyrgyz Republic has mentioned in his address are now well remembered thanks to the fact that the specialists in the area of nature use, seismology, irrigation and other related spheres in line with the laws of a nomenclature bureaucracy had to serve the “party strategic policy”. In such circumstance, the references to the Soviet Union, where allegedly “the examination of this project has been undertaken in the interests of all Central Asian republics” looks at least naïve. The specialists know that this project has never gone through ecological examination as much as other “major projects of the century” did not go through examination. Apparently, the Toktogul and Nurek were built in the “interests” of the Central Asian republics, which have led to a planetary catastrophe – the drying up of the Aral Sea, and in “interests” of Kyrgyzstan 1/15 part of the country ended up with being polluted with a radioactive waste. Or in the “interests” of Kazakhstan the Semipalatinsk testing area has been implemented the territory of which had ended up to be useless for a habitat and economic activity?

But what has happened to the famous projects of the Soviet time in terms of redirecting and transferring part of the watercourse of the Siberian rivers to Central Asia?

This list may go on.

It goes without saying, and it is clear to any sober-minded person that the 30-years-old projects must be subjected to an independent objective examination, which would reflect the following:

First, to what extent they meet the contemporary level of projecting and project decisions;

Second, how well the possible catastrophic consequences of elemental, natural and anthropogenic calamities are considered in them;

Third, to what extent these projects given their implementation may impact upon the already fragile ecological and water balance in the region.

I believe it must not cast doubt in any one the rightfulness of posing the question that before engaging in preparation of the technical feasibility study of such considerable sites as Kambarata Hydropower Station-1 there must be held a mandatory international, independent and objective examination undertaken by a commission under auspices of the United Nations. The commission must include absolutely disinterested and respected specialists, who might give an objective assessment to all questions, which naturally emerge when we speak about the project of such gigantic hydro-facility as Kambarata Hydropower Station-1.

And all attempts to divert the world community from these pivotal issues for contemporary and future generations of people look quite unconvincing.


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