Iran News ...


10/15/06

Baluch unrest stalls Iran gas pipeline to India

New Delhi, Oct 14, IRNA-Multimillion-dollar gas pipeline projects bringing gas from both Iran and Turkmenistan to India have virtually been stalled because of the unrest in Baluchestan after the killing of Baluch leader Akbar Bugti by the Pakistan military.

The continuing violence in this northern province of Pakistan as well as the increasing hold of the Taliban in Afghanistan has placed plans and negotiations between participating countries on hold.

"Even though it is a difficult task, we are doing our best to see that it goes through," India's Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said here in an interview with Asian Age.

He was referring to both the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline as well as the more ambitious Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, which will pass through what is now hostile terrain and will need tremendous manpower for round-the-clock security.

Deora has been holding talks on the gas pipeline projects and had detailed discussions with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and with the Asian Development Bank on the TAPI project. The last, he said, was very productive.

Price is a factor worrying for both India and Pakistan and has held up implementation of the IPA pipeline to date, but now the growing violence in Baluchestan is the unvoiced deterrent that has effectively stopped progress on this front.

The Baluch have been clear from the very beginning that their province should get royalties from the gas pipelines and, in June this year, the Baluchistan Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution demanding such payment for the IPI gas pipeline.

Members of the assembly pointed out that under Article 172 of their constitution, the IPI pipeline which would pass through Jewani to Hub in Baluchestan which belongs to the province.

Citing international guidelines, they also demanded free gas for the Baluch living in the vicinity of the pipeline.

Security concerns had been raised with Pakistan by both Iran and India. Pakistan had insisted that this would not be an issue and full security would be ensured.

But the violence and the anger after the death of Baluch leader Akbar Bugti, sources here said, had changed the situation for the worse and the security of the project could not be guaranteed even by the Pakistan military within Baluchestan.

... Payvand News - 10/15/06 ... --



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