July 31, 2008

Kyrgyz Way of River Water Use Should Not Harm Neighbours – Uzbek Paper

Excerpt from report by founded by Uzbekistan's Cabinet of Ministers, Uzbek newspaper Pravda Vostoka on 26 July

All water resources of the Central Asian rivers are distributed within "the plan on use of water resources in the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers' basins ", which is agreed by all countries of the region.

As a country with a huge population, Uzbekistan consumes over 50 per cent of all water resources of the Central Asian rivers. At the same time, over 85 per cent of the country's water resources originate outside it, and the main reservoirs, which are regulating flow of water to the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers, as well as to Uzbekistan's various water facilities, are located in neighbouring countries.

Taking into account that the Naryn-Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers have a status of trans-border ones, all countries in their basins must fulfil generally accepted requirements regarding trans-border rivers and should observe the international and historical right of each [country] to the amount of water they are entitled to.

However, currently the countries of the region have various approaches to resolve water as well as fuel and energy issues.

For instance, Kyrgyzstan unilaterally changed the system of work of the Toktogul reservoir from [a reservoir for] irrigation purposes to [a reservoir for] energy purposes.

It caused severe water-related and ecological problems in the basin of the Syr Darya river, particularly in its middle and lower reaches, where annually a shortage of irrigation water is experienced in the summer period, and on the contrary, in the winter period, the flooding of irrigated land and agricultural fields takes place.

[Passage omitted: background information]

Referring to the [last] severe winter, electrical engineers of the Toktogul [hydroelectric power station] used 2bn cu.m. of water more than it was stipulated by the agreed water discharge schedule in the non-irrigation seasons in 2007-2008.

Having decreased the reserves of water in the reservoir to a very low level, they thus put themselves, as well as the downstream countries, on the verge of water shortage.

This was the main cause of the crisis situation that unfolded in the reservoir.

Uzbekistan thinks that Kyrgyzstan should not make up for the amount of water used by reducing water discharge [to neighbouring countries] in the [agricultural] irrigation season.

Moreover, the international law on water resources does not have such clause, according to which Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan can use only 50 per cent of the Naryn-Syr Darya water.

[Passage omitted: background information on the Toktogul reservoir]

As for the generation of electricity in Kyrgyzstan, it can be increased, but not to the detriment of other users of water, who use it as a source of life. According to the international law, if unilateral use of water causes damage to other users of water, then this damage should be compensated for.

All nations living in the valleys of the Central Asian rivers have been using water of these rivers at all times. In the international practice there is no case of deliberately keeping water resources in artificial reservoirs for their further sale as a good.

The Kyrgyz side is regulating the flow of water in its own interests, rather than in the interests of the downstream countries. Kyrgyzstan practically continues to insist on its monopolistic right to water resources of the Naryn-Syr Darya basin, which cannot be recognized as justified.

Using the capacity of the Toktogul hydro-energy complex, Kyrgyzstan is trying to resolve its domestic problems at the expense of the Uzbek and Kazakh water users.

[Passage omitted: a project concerning the Toktogul reservoir]

Each country has the same right to use water of trans-border rivers. At the same time, a decrease in the water flow to the downstream countries should not be allowed and ecological security of the region, which is already vulnerable, should not be damaged.

Originally published by Pravda Vostoka, Tashkent, in Russian 26 Jul 08, pp 1, 2.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Central Asia. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.