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The Killid Group
No progress on gas pipelineWritten by Bahnam Fardes
Sunday, 31 July 2011 16:01
Six months after a historic agreement was signed by four countries on a pipeline from Turkmenistan to India little has happened on the ground.
Security concerns are holding up the construction of the 1900km pipeline which will go from Turkmenistan to Herat and onwards through Pakistan to India.
The pipeline agreement was signed on December 11, 2010 in Turkmenistan by the presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Indian deputy minister of foreign affairs.
The project is in Afghanistan's economic interest. Mohammad Sediq Mir, journalist, is of the opinion that a golden opportunity could be lost if the government does not make efforts to ensure security for the pipeline and pave the way for commencement of work.
Abdul Rahman Salahi, an engineer who heads an association of economists, engineers and agriculture experts in Herat, says Iran has been pushing ahead with its own pipeline to India. "Recently the issue of the Turk-Afghan pipeline faced some hurdles, and Iran wanted to start its own gas to be transported to India via Pakistan and named it Peace Pipeline."
Mohammad Din Noori, spokesman for the Herat governor, says: "Security officials in Herat are able to assure security of this pipeline passing from Herat". Meanwhile, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, Spokesman of Police Zone No. 666 in the western zone says: "If practical work of this project starts, security officials and personnel of Herat would properly assure pipeline extension in western zone of Afghanistan".
According to officials in the Ministry of Mines, 750kms of pipeline will run through Afghanistan. The Afghan government could earn 400 million USD annually as tax from the selling and purchasing countries. Additionally, it would provide thousands of jobs for Afghans.
The biggest stumbling block is the lack of cooperation between Turkmenistan and Iran. There is intense rivalry between them for exporting gas. It could take several months before the pipeline reaches Afghanistan.