January   
2011

Vol. 10 - No. 7


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SOUTH ASIA


 



(Afghanistan and Myanmar in the 
         map are not members of SAARC)

Economic Significance of TAPI

The 1,700-km-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), natural gas pipeline project was primarily conceived as TAP (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) in 1990s.

With the signing of the framework agreement at the ministerial level and the key document of TAPI at the level of the heads of states, during the Ashkhabad Summit on December 11, 2010, one can hope that this long awaited project would be completed now.

The 1,700-km-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), natural gas pipeline project was primarily conceived as TAP (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) in 1990s. However, owing to major differences with the Taliban regime, Unocal, the US led consortium, failed to undertake construction work on the project.

As per the framework agreement, the envisaged route of the gas pipeline is from Turkmen city of Dauletabad gas fields to Fazilaka India via Herat-Kandahar (Afghanistan) and Quetta, Pakistan. The designated capacity of the gas is expected to be 33 billion cubic meter per year with estimated cost of $8 billion. According to initial estimates, “India and Pakistan would each stand to receive around 38 million cubic meters of gas (42% each) out of the 90 million cubic meters shipped daily,” with the rest going to Afghanistan.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has already promised “financing a techno-economic feasibility study that covered pipeline routing, preliminary design, cost estimates, and rapid environmental impact assessment, and to assess volume-price sensitivity.” Indian participation in the project was indeed sponsored by the ADB. The technical assistance by the designers of the ADB also includes construction of underground reservoirs for the storage of natural gas in Pakistan in sufficient quantity for meeting the emergency requirements of the consumer countries. This would enhance the significance of Pakistan as a storage spot.

The project is significant, because it is the first formal effort for linking the energy rich Central Asia with the energy deficient South Asia.

Moreover, the project would provide an outlet to the landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs) through a shortest possible route with the rest of the world. At regional level, the project would lead towards a regional integration between the South and Central Asia. Pakistan, indeed, provides the shortest access to CARs for export and transportation of their natural resources via the Arabian Sea as well as the overland route.

Another significance of the project would be that a huge number of human resources would be committed during the construction of the pipeline and even thereafter on various miscellaneous duties, thus substantially reducing unemployment in these countries. Apart from this optimistic aspect, for the countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, the project would bring a huge amount of transit fee, as the pipeline covers huge stretches through the Pak-Afghan territories.

Since the pipeline has to pass through some dangerous areas of Afghanistan, still under the occupation of Taliban and warlords, therefore, the safety and security of the project in those areas would remain as a point of concern during as well as after the construction of the pipeline. President Karzai, however, promised that, “Afghanistan will live up to its obligations in ensuring the pipeline’s construction and safety.” In this regard, the ongoing efforts of Hamid Karzai for the reconciliation and re-integration of Taliban and warlords needs further impetus.

Besides, the countries directly involved in the Afghan affairs, the US and Nato countries and India, have the primary responsibility to bring stability in that country. Of course, the other regional countries do have a role to play for the stability of Afghanistan, the way Pakistan is assisting the Karzai administration in the reconciliation with Taliban.

The much-awaited Ashkhabad Summit is indeed a welcoming step for the economic well being of South Asia. As pointed out by Turkmen President Berdymukhamedov, “Along with commercial and economic benefits, this project will also yield a stabilising influence on the region and beyond,” and therefore, let us make TAPI as the symbol of peace, stability, and economic prosperity of South and Central Asia.

[South Asia Media]

News Briefs

 

Nepal confers honorary Gen of NA to Indian Army Chief: Indian Army chief V K Singh was today conferred the title of 'honorary General' of Nepal Army, even as he asked Nepal not to allow any activity directed against India from its territory. Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav provided Gen. Singh with an insignia and citation of Nepal Army as part of the investiture ceremony…PTI, December 23, 2010

[South Asia Intelligent Review]

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