Your message has been sent, you will be contacted soon
Afghanistan Times

Call Me Now!

Close

Afghanistan to form 7,000 member security force to guard $10 billion TAPI pipeline

  • Array

The announcement is heartening for India since many of the country’s projects in Afghanistan have been targeted by terrorist groups.

NEW DELHI: Afghanistan has said it will raise a 7,000-member security force to guard the $10-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline project within its territory, an announcement that comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country where regional connectivity projects, including the pipeline, were discussed.
The announcement is heartening for India since many of the country’s projects in Afghanistan have been targeted by terrorist groups.

Mines and petroleum minister Daud Shah Saba told the upper house of his country’s parliament this week that the force will provide security during the implementation of the project and demining of the route of the pipeline within Afghanistan. He said procurement for demining will be completed by next month and work on clearing the pipeline passage will begin in April 2016.

An intergovernmental joint security task force will also be raised which will serve as nucleus of the security programme for the security of the pipeline, said a government official in Delhi who did not wish to be identified.

The project poses logistical challenges since the 1,800-km pipeline will pass through areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan plagued by Taliban and separatist insurgents. The official further said the precise role and responsibilities of each host country are being framed and a team will be created to ensure operational continuity so as to undertake rapid repair of critical facilities and equipment in case of sabotage or accident.

The construction of the pipeline began this month, about 25 years after the inception of the project. The pipeline is envisaged to be completed by December 2018, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said at the groundbreaking ceremony in Ashgabat. Vice-President Hamid Ansari represented India on the occasion.

Earlier this month, Berdymukhamedov ordered state companies Turkmengaz and Turkmengazneftstroi to begin building his country’s 214-km section of the pipeline. The pipeline will travel 773 km in Afghanistan and 827 km in Pakistan before entering India.

For Turkmenistan, which has been hit by low energy prices and dependence on China for the vast majority of its gas sales, the pipeline offers an opportunity to diversify its exports.

India and Pakistan can look forward to meeting some of their energy demands through gas from this pipeline, which promises to be a major confidence building measure for the region. State-owned Gas Authority of India or GAIL, Indian partner for the project, will own 5% stake in the pipeline.
Keep Pipeline security well-oiled

The security focus makes perfect sense. A cross-country natural gas pipeline would boost energy security, provide regular ‘right of way’ payments and also step up much-needed security services in the region. Indeed, the huge pipeline project can transform infrastructure and economic linkages in a security challenged environment. In parallel, we in India need to explore multiple cross-border sourcing of gas, such as an offshore pipeline from resource-rich Iran.