Relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are sinking over Dushanbe’s plans to construct the giant Rogun hydroelectric power plant. And of late, Tashkent has started directing some of its ire at a massive Tajik aluminum smelter, portraying it as an environmental nightmare.
Uzbek officials have based their vigorous opposition to Rogun on claims that its construction would be ecologically unsound and seismically unsafe. Some independent experts, meanwhile, contend that Tashkent’s chief fear is that Rogun might greatly diminish the amount of water available to Uzbekistan for its irrigation needs.
Officials in Dushanbe reject Uzbekistan’s protests as absurd, emphasizing that it is their sovereign right to go ahead with building the plant, which would enable Tajikistan to become a major electricity exporter. [For background see the EurasiaNet archive].
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Konstantin Parshin is a freelance journalist based in Dushanbe.