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India to join Afghan-Pak gas pipeline

This is a move to import natural gas to meet the fuel needs of its growing economy.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 18:24 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Ahead of the visit of US President George Bush, India has decided to join the US-backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline.

This is a move to import natural gas to meet the fuel needs of its growing economy.

New Delhi, earlier this month participated for the first time as an "observer" in the 9th meeting of the steering committee of the TAP project.

India, has since then decided to join the $3.5-billion project.

"We have 90-days to get necessary official approvals to join the project," Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said.

"Once approved by the Cabinet, the project will be renamed TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline)," Deora added.

Officials said the pipeline from Turkmenistan would be more easier to implement than the Iran-Pakistan-India line as it already had the backing of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Moreover, unlike IPI, the project does not run the risk of being blacklisted for participation by US and European financers and companies.

US has been encouraging Pakistan to abandon the IPI project and consider TAP for meeting its gas needs.

The Bush administration accuses Tehran of harbouring nuclear weapon ambitions and has called for its isolation.

The proposed natural gas pipeline would stretch from the Turkmenistan/Afghanistan border in southeastern Turkmenistan to Multan, Pakistan (790 miles, 1,271 kilometres), with a 400-mile (640-kilometre) extension to India.

Estimated cost of the project is $2.9 billion for the segment to Pakistan and an additional $600 million for the extension to India.

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