Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Border town may turn into energy hub soon-TAPI Gas Pipeline Project

Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Fazilka, December 13
With the signing of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project by the respective representatives of these countries in the recent past, this town bordering Pakistan has got prominence as the important pipeline would terminate in this region and could enable it to develop as an energy hub.

The 1,640 km long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would bring 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from Turkmenistan's gas fields to Multan in the Central Pakistan and then it would end in the north-western part of Indian town Fazilka.

If all goes well, the pipeline would perhaps be the fourth pipeline, which would touch Punjab. Earlier, the state has witnessed the Kandla-Bathinda oil pipeline operation.

The signatures on the documents connected with 'Inter-governmental agreement' (IGA) and the 'Gas sales and purchase agreement' (GSPA) were put by Asif Ali Zardari, President, Pakistan, Hamid Karzai, President Afghanistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President, Turkmenistan, Murli Deora, Union Petroleum Minister, India and Haruhiko Kuroda, President, Asian Development Bank about two days ago.

Set up in 1844 by a British citizen, this town, located in close vicinity of Indo-Pak border, was famous for its wool trade during pre-partition days as local traders would export wool to Liverpool (Britain) through Karachi and Sindh ports.

With the wool trade virtually coming to an end coupled with the failure of successive state and centre government to develop required infrastructure for its aggressive industrialisation and setbacks caused by two Indo-Pak wars in 1965 and 1971, the economic complexion of this town changed drastically in the past many decades.

"Now, we hope that a fresh era of economic prosperity would start in this region within a few years with the completion TAPI," said Navdeep Asija, administrative secretary, Graduate Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF), adding that terminal point of gas pipe was expected to be set up at Sadiqi — the joint check-post on the Indo-Pak border.

Information gathered by the TNS revealed that the prestigious project, expected to change the energy scenario in India, Afghanistan and Pakistan, had been hanging fire for the past one and a half decade due to security and other reasons. About 735 kilometres of gas pipeline would pass from Afghanistan and 800 kilometres from Pakistan before it touched the Indian territory.

However, Ferozepur Deputy Commissioner Kamal Kishor Yadav, when contacted, said no department or agency of the Central government had ever contacted the district administration in connection with the TAPI and hence, he could not make any comment as to whether it would terminate in the Fazilka region or not. However, the Border Security Force (BSF) authorities have also expressed their ignorance about TAPI.

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