KABUL (Pajhwok): Work on the Central and South Asia (CASA)-1000 project has been stalled in Afghanistan due to hostile conditions, according to a media report citing a Tajik government official on Sunday.
But Bilal Karimi, acting deputy government spokesman, said the situation in Afghanistan was normal and the conditions for the multinational energy project had been met. There is no problem and tensions existed in the way of CASA implementation, he added.
Referring to recent comments from a government official in Tajikistan, he said: “We will investigate the matter you referred to in order to dig up the real problem. However, there were no barriers to the excitement of CASA,” he said.
The CASA-1000 project aims to enable Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, former Soviet republics with an extensive network of hydroelectric power plants, to sell excess energy to Pakistan and Afghanistan during the summer months.
Faizali Samiyev, head of the Tajik Project Implementation Office, said work on the project, originally scheduled to be completed next year, was continuing in three countries, but not in Afghanistan, according to a Reuters report.
While the World Bank, one of CASA-1000’s main funders, continues to fund projects in Afghanistan, it has decided to focus on education, agriculture, health and family programs whose the need is urgent and to circumvent the sanctioned Taliban authorities by disbursing the money through UN agencies and international aid. groups.
Funding for the CASA-1000 project – which was designed to provide Pakistan with 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity and Afghanistan with 300 MW – has been suspended, Samiyev said.
“(We hope) contacts will be made with the Afghan side and ways to implement the project will be worked out,” he said.
The project could be a boon for the two Central Asian countries that have a surplus of electricity in the summer but suffer from shortages in the winter, unless they can buy fuel or electricity from their neighbours.
The United States helped fund the project when it launched in 2016 as part of its New Silk Road initiative to integrate Afghanistan with Central Asia.
Other project sponsors include the Islamic Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.