7000-strong security force to guard TAPI pipeline: Saba
KABUL (Pajhwok): Mines and Petroleum Minister Daud Shah Saba on Sunday said a strong 7,000-member security force would keep security for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project during its implementation and demining the route the pipeline would cross would begin in three months.
The TAPI project transferring gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to India and Pakistan was officially inaugurated on December 13.
The 1,800 km pipeline aims to export up to 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
A 750km portion of the pipeline would pass through Afghanistan’s Herat, Farah, Helmand and Kandahar provinces reaching Pakistan.
It ensures energy security through balanced development of regional infrastructure and institutions, stronger integration of markets and economic growth through enhanced energy trading.
However, on Sunday, a number of Meshrano Jirga or upper house members expressed their concern about the security situation of the project route.
Senator Mulavi Muhayuddin Munsif said: “Apart from insecurity, there are no other challenges in the implementation of the TAPI project. If security is not improved and Helmand province where the pipeline would pass is not cleared of rebels and mines, it would be impossible to implement the project.”
Meshrano Jirga Secretary Abdullah Qarlaq also said the TAPI implementation would face problems if militants were not eliminated in areas along the TAP project route.
However, Daud Shah Saba told the house that the project was not under any security threat. He said a security committee for the TAPI project had already been created and from 5,000 to 7,000 personnel would be employed for the protection of the project.
He said there were no big security problems in Herat, Kandahar and Farah provinces and the security problems in Helmand would be resolved with the deployment of special security forces there. With the creation of special security forces, the vital Herat-Kandahar highway would be also secured against militants, he said.
The capacity of Afghan deminers would be used for clearing the gas pipeline corridor, he said, adding the procurement process for demining would be completed next month and practical work on clearing of the pipeline passage would be started in April.
“ The management and socio-physical survey of the TAPI project would be started in the next few days in Afghanistan,” he added.
Work on the project would be launched physically in 2017 and the estimated deadline for the project would be the end of 2019 and the transfer of the gas would be started in early 2020 from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Afghanistan would earn $400 million annually in transit fee and the project would create permanent jobs for nearly 7,000 people and 7000 additional people would be hired for security of the project, he said.
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