Uzbekistan will help the Taliban build a canal that will worsen the water problem in the country

The Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers
The Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers

Uzbekistan is going to help the Taliban build a canal that will exacerbate the already difficult problem with the availability of water in the republic. The fact that our country will assist in the construction of the Koshtepa canal (water will come there from the Amu Darya River) was told to journalists earlier this week by the Minister of Water Resources of Uzbekistan Shavkat Xamrayev.

According to the minister quoted by Gazeta.uz on June 21, a delegation of the Uzbek government in March visited Afghanistan. The delegation of the country held talks in Kabul on a number of issues. In particular, they discussed the project for the construction of the Koshtepa canal.

During the talks, Xamrayev told reporters, the country’s delegation expressed concern about the construction of the canal to representatives of the Taliban movement.

“Of course, we told them: “You are building this canal, we are suffering with water in the lower reaches, we have come to express our concern to you.” They said, “We understand your concerns. But at one time we were occupied by the British, the USSR, and then America. Everyone was hostile to us through the robbery. Even now we are not recognized by many countries, we are suffering. Our huge funds and accounts were frozen. But our people are hungry, we need to eat, we need to plant something. That’s what water is for.» They tried to explain,” said Shavkat Xamrayev.

“[The project] has many errors and omissions. “We have smart designers, design institutes, let’s get together,” we said. Six versions of the canal project were made. I have studied everything in detail… We must regard each other as friendly peoples. We intended this [channel] to be a channel of friendship that unites two peoples, not a channel of enmity. They agreed with our intention. We also help. We agreed with them that we will form a working group,” the minister said.

According to Shavkat Xamrayev, a second visit of the delegation of the Uzbek government to Afghanistan is expected next week.

“This will be our second visit. This time we will communicate directly, travel to the canal and construction sites, work together with our designers. Then it will be clear where and how we can help. They need water, they will get it anyway. It’s not that you can close or not,» he said.

According to the plan, the length of the Koshtepa canal in Afghanistan should be 285 km, width — 100 meters, depth — almost 8.5 meters. The construction project is designed for five years, and after its completion, Afghanistan will receive 10 cubic kilometers of water, that is, at least a third of the Amu Darya water. According to the plan of the Taliban, the canal will supply water to three districts in northern Afghanistan.

According to experts, the construction of the Koshtepa canal in Afghanistan will further reduce Uzbekistan’s water reserves and may cause drought.

In accordance with the decree on urgent measures to improve the efficiency of the use of water resources, signed by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in April, the volume of water in the Syr Darya this year will decrease by 10-15%, and in the Amu Darya — by 20%.

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