Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari arrived in Ashgabat, the capital city of Turkmenistan, late Friday night (IST) for a three-day visit to the nation. He will be attending what is being termed as a ground-breaking ceremony of the ambitious USD 7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. He was received by Governor of Ahal Province Yazmyradov Annageldi upon his arrival in Ashgabat.
The Vice President, who is accompanied by Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, will also participate in events marking the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s status of permanent neutrality on Saturday.
VP Md. Hamid Ansari is also scheduled to address an international conference on policy of neutrality, peace, security and development.
On Sunday morning, the Vice President would visit the ancient city of Mary some 311 km from the Turkmenistan capital city, which was part of the old Silk Route, to attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the TAPI pipeline. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, along with Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow would also be present.
Turkmenistan’s state company Turkmengas will lead the consortium for building the 1800-kilometre long pipeline carrying gas from the former the Soviet state to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for a 30-year period and is targeted to be operational in 2018. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan.
“No timeline is available as of now,” Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Navtej Sarna said in response to a question on when the project will get operational.
India’s state gas utility “GAIL has signed a Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with Turkmengas for import of 38 mmscmd of natural gas for 30 years. However, with Afghanistan agreeing to take approx 1.5-4 mmscmd against the original agreed volume of 14 mmscmd, the Indian volumes may increase to 43-44.25 mmscmd,” Petroleum Minister Pradhan had informed Rajya Sabha in a written reply earlier this week.
Later in his visit, VP Ansari will also pay homage at the bust of Mahatma Gandhi, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi early this year in the Turkmenistan capital near the holistic health and yoga centre here.
(With inputs from the PTI)