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Tajik President Officially Launches Construction Of Rogun Dam

  • RFE/RL

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon at the site of the Rogun Dam, Oct. 29, 2016.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon at the site of the Rogun Dam, Oct. 29, 2016.

Tajikistan has officially started the construction of the Rogun Dam, a massive project that, if completed, would be the world's tallest and should give the Central Asian nation a stable energy supply.

Italian construction conglomerate Salini Impregilo won a $3.9 billion contract to build the structure, whose opening ceremony on October 29 was attended by President Emomali Rahmon.

At this inaugural event, explosions were used to block the main riverbed of the Vakhsh River, marking the first substantial step toward building the dam.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon meets with leaders and experts of the Rogun hydroelectric power plant and residents of the city, Oct. 29, 2016. 29.10.2016

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon meets with leaders and experts of the Rogun hydroelectric power plant and residents of the city, Oct. 29, 2016. 29.10.2016

The Rogun plant is slated to start generating power by late 2018.

The ceremony came a day after a malfunction at Tajikistan's biggest hydro-power plant caused a nearly three-hour blackout across the country.

Tajikistan, one of the poorest former Soviet republics, is heavily dependent on hydroelectric power and regularly experiences electricity outages.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon meets with leaders and experts of the Rogun hydroelectric power plant and residents of the city, Oct. 29, 2016. 29.10.2016

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon meets with leaders and experts of the Rogun hydroelectric power plant and residents of the city, Oct. 29, 2016. 29.10.2016

Authorities say the Rogun Dam will be able to provide electricity for the whole country. They say the dam could also provide parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan with cheap electricity.

Uzbekistan has voiced concern that the dam in Southern Tajikistan will reduce water flows to its cotton fields.

RFE/RL's Tajik service and Tohir Safarov contributed to this article.

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