Work on India-bound Tapi gas pipeline begins

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The feasibility study, proposed to lay a 56-inch diameter 1,680 KM pipeline with design capacity of 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per annum (Bcfd) from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan up to Pak-India border.

Both the events in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan respectively were also attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, and Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani.

"There were pessimistic voices, but now we are witnessing the construction of the TAPI gas pipeline", he said, using the acronym for the conduit which takes its name from the four countries.

Construction has begun on the Afghanistan stretch of an ambitious pipeline that is to carry natural gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Turkmenistan holds the world's fourth largest natural gas reserves, but in recent years has been strongly dependent on gas exports to China after Russian Federation reduced their gas imports.

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The Afghan president in his address said Afghanistan will leave no stone unturned to implement the project.

Afghanistan will host leaders from Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India today in Herat for the ground-breaking ceremony of the Afghan section of the TAPI pipeline.

"It [TAPI] will provide gas pipeline, power transmission, roads and rail and an economic zone".

Afghanistan would earn $500 million as royalty each year from the TAPI project, according to Afghan officials. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was the most efficient connectivity link for the Central Asian states and its linkage with the One Belt One Road would open a new world of opportunities, he added. However, there are indications that security of the project would not be a serious issue as Taliban spokesman too has given assurance to protect the pipeline because of its significance for Afghanistan. The prime minister emphasised on the need for greater military and defence cooperation between the two countries and offered to assist Turkmenistan in meeting its defence needs. Given these positive signals, it is hoped that the project would now be completed as per schedule and the four countries as well as the United States and other friendly countries would lend a helping hand in clearing hurdles, if any.