TAPI is a people’s pipeline; safety, assured supply of gas is vital, says MJ Akbarhttps://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/tapi-is-a-peoples-pipeline-safety-assured-supply-of-gas-is-vital-says-mj-akbar-5076028/

TAPI is a people’s pipeline; safety, assured supply of gas is vital, says MJ Akbar

Representing India at the inauguration of the TAPI pipeline in Afghanistan, Akbar said, “Any good idea can become vulnerable to bad intentions. Alas, a great concept only invites greater challenges. Large investments demand care and caution. Safety of the transnational pipeline and assured supply of gas is vital. "

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(From left) Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, Turkmenistan President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, at the inauguration ceremony of TAPI pipeline construction work, in Herat, Afghanistan, on Friday. (Reuters)

Expressing India’s strong commitment to the $10-billion transnational TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project, Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar on Friday described it as a “people’s pipeline” and said that every partner country must make a solemn commitment to act against terrorists who hurt the welfare of the people and to deny terrorists sanctuary and safety – in an oblique reference meant for Pakistan.

Representing India at the inauguration of the TAPI pipeline in Herat in Afghanistan, Akbar said, “Any good idea can become vulnerable to bad intentions. Alas, a great concept only invites greater challenges. Large investments demand care and caution. Safety of the transnational pipeline and assured supply of gas is vital. TAPI will traverse through space and seasons of violence. We have full faith in Afghanistan’s commitment to secure transmission and in the courage of its security forces — but the responsibility must also be shared. Every partner must make a solemn commitment to act against terrorists who hurt the welfare of the people; and to deny terrorists sanctuary and safety. TAPI is a dove in a storm; we must protect it with all our will and capacity.”

At the ground breaking ceremony of TAPI gas pipeline in Turkmenistan, he said, “For us, in India, TAPI is integral to the vision of a new prosperity, rising from the base of the economic pyramid, for gas can light up lives as perhaps nothing else. Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes that the first and the largest share of economic growth must go to those who need it most; that we must protect and nurture peace as the essential basis of shared prosperity, and work as one to defeat those who have become saboteurs of both peace and prosperity.”

TAPI, he said, is also an important part of India’s energy security, with substantial collateral benefits. TAPI not only connects partner nations, but also opens up new options between Indian and Central Asia, particularly when complemented with other connectivity initiatives in the region. TAPI opens up geography — and opportunity, he said.

Earlier, he had said that while it will help ease energy shortages in South Asia, but voiced concerns over the security and predictability of supply of gas and sought contractual assurances.

Speaking at the 25th Session of Steering Committee on Implementation of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project on Thursday, Akbar had said, “Today, given the energy requirements in India, there are several gas pipeline proposals before us. We are, however, strongly committed to TAPI Pipeline project.” “The TAPI project is more than the sum of four nations’ interests. It creates a benchmark for regional cooperation in a region that could certainly do with more cooperation,” said Akbar, who is leading a delegation comprising representatives from Ministries of Petroleum, External Affairs and GAIL, which represents India in the TAPI Pipeline Company Ltd (TPCL).

The delegation also includes for the first time senior official level representation from Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), which is India’s largest public sector refiner and marketing company. It is also one of the largest offtaker of gas, including from the proposed TAPI pipeline. “We also have some concerns regarding the security and predictability of supply of gas and would need contractual assurances. GAIL has been engaged in discussions with companies of the other three countries and with TPCL. The Steering Committee is seized of the matter, but, there has been no forward movement in this regard,” he said.

India has concerns relating to the safety of the pipeline and safe transit of gas through restive areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Akbar said India strongly feels that these key issues need to be addressed to make this a win-win project.

Turkmenistan, which sits on the world’s fourth-largest gas reserves, started building its section of the pipeline in December 2015. The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for 30 years and is planned to become operational this year.

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The project will bring clean fuel to the growing economies of India and Pakistan.