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Interference in TUTAP project will create crisis: MPs

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: Members of the Wolesi Jirga on Saturday warned that political interference in Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TUTAP) power transmission project would create crisis in the country.

Legislators asked the government to deal with all those with iron hands who are sabotaging the project. They said that the power transmission line shall pass through Salang rather than Bamyan as decided by the government and approved by the World Bank.

The other day, the former second vice president Karim Khalili at a gathering with his supporters asked the government implement the project through Bamyan province. He said that people of Bamyan, Daikundi and Maidan Wardak provinces are expecting that the government would pay heed to their demand. “Pass the power supply line from these provinces instead of Salang pass,” he asked the unity government leaders.

He also warned of protests if the government failed to meet their demand.

Earlier, Deputy to the Chief Executive Officer, Mohammad Mohaqiq, warned the government that if Bamyan province was ignored in the TUTAP power project, he would resign from his post and would be standing with the protesting people.

People in Khost province has also launched protest demonstrations asking the public policymakers to stick to their decision and pass the power transmission line through Salang pass which is economical and feasible. They said that it would be difficult to maintain security of the project if the power transmission line was passed through Bamyan.

Recently, the Council of Ministers decided to pass the TUTAP electricity line through Salang. The decision was criticized by ethnic Hazara and termed it an act of injustice against the minority.

To calm down the situation while keeping the national interests in view, the lawmakers expressed deep concerns over interference of certain influential people for their personal benefits. They said that these people were using the project as a political tool to gain popularity.

Members of the Wolesi Jirga said that individuals who are meddling in the project have lost their credibility and now wanted to re-emerge on the political scene while making the TUTAP a bone of contention between certain ethnic groups.

“If these people continued interference, residents of other provinces will not sit silent. People of other provinces will also stage demonstrations. They will stand against those who are asking for change in route of the power transmission line. It will damage the national unity and create serious issues,” Shinkai Karokhil, an MP from Kabul, said.

She said that it was a matter of great concern that some political leaders motivated people against the important national project to delay the project. “I hope that the National Directorate of Security will investigate the issue to know if any country is supporting those who are sabotaging the project,” Ms Karokhil asked the national spy agency for thorough probe into the matter.

Salih Mohammad Salih, another lawmaker, said that government is responsible to provide electricity to Bamyan province, but no one can mobilize people against the government in the current situation.

“It is regretful that a political leader [Mohammad Mohaqiq] eats the food of the government and mobilizes people against it. It is the duty of the government to provide public services, but it is also responsibility of the government to prevent anyone from hampering the national project,” he asserted.

Nasima Naizi, an MP from Helmand, alleged that Iran wants to create hurdles for the power project by influencing some people inside and outside the government.

She remarked that interference in TUTAP project will halt it because the project is supported by the World Bank.

The Wolesi Jirga ordered a special commission to evaluate the dispute over TUTAP power project with the government.

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