People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIV

No. 51

December 19, 2010


COMMENT

 

Yes to TAPI, No to IPI: Against National Interest

 

Our Commentator

 

THE Indian government signed an inter-governmental agreement for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project on December 11, at Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The union petroleum minister signed the agreement along with the presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to deliver natural gas from Turkmenistan through a 1700 km gas pipeline, passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

Reportedly, India has signed this project by agreeing to take custody of the gas at Turkmenistan-Afghanistan border and will rely on an international consortium for safe transfer of the fuel through Afghanistan and Pakistan. This stands in sharp contrast to Indiaís position on the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, where it insisted that Iran assume responsibility of delivering the gas at Indiaís border. Security of the IPI pipeline, coming through Pakistan, was officially cited as the major concern. Now, the TAPI pipeline is to be routed not only through Pakistan but also through Afghanistan, which is the most volatile and insecure region in the world today. What has happened to the Indian governmentís security concerns?

 

Moreover, the reported project cost of 10 billion dollars for the TAPI project is much higher than the estimated 7 billion dollars IPI project. This would certainly imply a higher price for the Turkmen gas as compared to Iranian gas.

 

The IPI pipeline has been jettisoned by India at the behest of the United States, in tune with its strategy to isolate Iran. The US has been pressurising India to sever its long-standing economic and energy ties with Iran. The TAPI pipeline has been pushed by the US as an alternative to the IPI.

 

Indiaís decision to sign into the TAPI project, while virtually walking out of the IPI project, goes against its national interest, because:

 

1) Gas supply is less secure in the case of the TAPI pipeline compared to the IPI pipeline, because it is routed through more volatile regions.

 

2) The project cost of the TAPI pipeline is substantially more vis-ŗ-vis the IPI pipeline, implying higher financial obligations for India.

 

3) Turkmen gas would be costlier compared to the Iranian gas.

 

This is yet another instance of the UPA government acting against our national interest at the behest of the US administration.