Visiting chief of the National Security Service (SGB) of Uzbekistan, Ikhtiyor Abdullayev, yesterday visited the site for construction of the Roghun hydroelectric power plant (HPP) to get acquainted with the progress of construction of the facility, according to the public relations center of the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) of Tajikistan.

On June 12, Uzbek security service chief also visited the Varzob district, where he reportedly got acquainted with the district’s tourism potential. 

The Roghun HPP is an embankment dam in the preliminary stages of construction on the Vakhsh River in southern Tajikistan.  It is one of the planned hydroelectric power plants of Vakhsh Cascade.

The Roghun HPP was first proposed in 1959 and a technical scheme was developed by 1965.  Construction began in 1976 but the project was frozen after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

An agreement on finishing the construction was signed between Tajikistan and Russia in 1994; however, as the agreement was not implemented, it was denounced by Tajikistan parliament.

In October 2004, Tajikistan signed an agreement with Russia's RusAl aluminum company, according to which RusAl agreed to complete the Roghun facility and rebuild the Tursunzoda aluminum smelter.  In August 2007, Tajikistan formally revoked a contract with RusAl, accusing it of failing to fulfill the contract.

In April 2008, Tajikistan founded OJSC NBO Roghun with an authorized capital of 116 million somoni for completing the construction of the Roghun HPP.  Current authorized capital of OJSC NBO Roghun reportedly amounts to more than 12 billion somoni.

To raise funds to complete construction of the Roghun HPP the government started to sell shares in Roghun to people on January 6, 2010.  Tajikistan has reportedly issued 6 billion somoni worth of Roghun shares.  The sale of Roghun shares has reportedly earned the government 980 million somoni.   

In response to the request of the bordering countries and especially Uzbekistan, the World Bank has financed the Techno-Economic Assessment Study (TEAS) conducted by consortium of Coyne et Bellier, Electroconsult and IPA Energy + Water Economics, and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) conducted by Poyry. The ESIA was published on June 16, 2014 and the TEAS in July 2014.  Overall, the ESIA stated that “Most impacts are rather small and easily mitigated, if mitigation is required at all.” and that “There is no impact of the category “strong negative, mitigation not possible,” which would have to be considered as a no-go for the project.”

In 2016, construction duties on Roghun were assigned to Italian company Salini Impregilo.  It is estimated that the project will cost $3.9 billion to complete.

Former Uzbek President Islam Karimov was violently opposed to the Roghun dam project.  His most infamous comment on the matter was made in 2012 during a visit to Kazakhstan.  “Water resources could become a problem in the future that could escalate tensions not only in our region, but on every continent,” said Karimov.  “I won’t name specific countries, but all of this could deteriorate to the point where not just serious confrontation, but even wars could be the result.”

Uzbekistan changed Roghun tone after Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power.  Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov held a television Q&A session in July 2017. Among the questions was one regarding “Tashkent’s silence” on the Roghun dam project.  Responding to the question about Roghun, Komilov said: “The position of principle remains that during the construction of such dams, the interests of both upstream and downstream countries should be considered.  We do not say that our Tajik friends should stop the construction of the Roghun Dam. Go ahead and build it, but we hold to certain guarantees in accordance with these conventions that have been signed by you.”

The possibility of Uzbekistan's participation in the construction of the Roghun dam in Tajikistan was reflected in a joint statement by the presidents of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Emomali Rahmon and Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed following the talks in Dushanbe in March 2018.

The parties expressed their mutual interest in developing regional partnership in the sphere of rational and fair use of water resources and stressed the importance of existing hydropower facilities for the Central Asia, and those under construction, in order to solve water and energy problems.