LAHORE: The Defence Ministry has finally accorded its approval over the route of the mega Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, paving way for the Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) to carry out an aerial survey required ahead of launching the civil work on this mega project.
“The ministry has given its clearance over the route of TAPI project, enabling us to complete the aerial survey of some remaining portions of the route. Hopefully we will complete it within a month or so,” ISGS’s Managing Director Mobin Saulat told Dawn on Wednesday.
The ISGC had applied to the ministry in July 2017 for approval of the route and permission regarding the initiation of aerial route survey of the TAPI’s portion falling in Pakistan’s territory.
Almost one and half years later, 780km of the TAPI’s total 1,800km long route, was granted approval for survey. This territory begins from Chaman and ends in Multan district via Quetta and Dera Ismail Khan.
The official said the recent visit of a delegation from Turkmenistan remained very productive as it resolved various outstanding issues over the Host Country Agreement (HGA) that is to be signed within the next 30 days or so. The delegation also urged the Pakistani authorities to get time from Prime Minister Imran Khan for groundbreaking of the project in February or March.
“The visit proved to be very productive, as we were able to amicably resolve various outstanding issues — such as operations, coordination between the provinces, officials’ access, permission protocol etc — over the final draft of the HGA. This has enabled us to prepare the final draft and send this to the ministry for its review and approval. As soon as they approve this, it will be signed by the two countries in a ceremony that is expected to be held by end of this or next month,” the Saulat explained.
Talking about launching civil work on the project, he said he expected this by June 2019 after the groundbreaking and completion of the entire preparatory works. The detailed design, topographic surveys, etc have already been completed. Only the aerial survey of some patches of the route remains and it will also be done soon.
“Similarly the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contract has already been awarded to a couple of European companies by an international consortium entrusted with the task to accomplish the project,” he added.
He said that India had already built necessary infrastructure (laying its pipeline) at the project’s end point in Fazilka district that borders Pakistan near Multan. “I think India has done its work already by building necessary infrastructure to connect the pipeline near Fazilka,” he concluded.
Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2018