I couldn't think of a better headline for this one.
For years now, the Turkmen government has spent state funds on projects that have little, if any, value for the general population.
The Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, is a white-marble wonder with a giant equestrian statue in the city center of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, covered in gold-leaf, and a golden statue of his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, on the outskirts of town. (Yes, that's the one that rotated so Niyazov always faced the direction of the sun.)
There are five-star hotels at the Awaza Caspian coastal resort area, reportedly rarely more than 20- or 30-percent occupied and, for the most part, off limits to the country's citizens.
The list of vanity projects goes on and on.
Which is why I couldn't help but notice a June 2 report about plans to build two water-purification plants on the Caspian coast in the western Balkan Province.
The Turkmen state information agency's website said a plant with the capacity to produce 50,000 cubic meters of potable water daily would be built at the town of Ekerem, and another with the capacity to produce 5,000 cubic meters daily would be built at Hazar (formerly Chekelen).
The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources has already announced an international tender for the project, and is taking bids until July 14.
Until then, we don't know what the cost is, but I'm betting it will be less than one of those five-star hotels up the coast at Awaza.
Good News For A Change?
Since many of the things the Turkmen government spends money on don't seem to make sense, it is refreshing, and certainly worth noting, when the authorities there engage in a project that benefits the country's citizens.
Qishloq Ovozi has already noted that the purification of water from the Caspian Sea seems to be a perfect solution to the water problems in western Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
Of course, all we have now are intentions.
The state information agency report mentioned there were other water-purification plants operating along Turkmenistan's Caspian coast, one at Turkmenbashi City and another at Awaza.
The Turkmen opposition website Khronika Turkmenistan noted that there is another purification plant in northern Dashoguz Province. According to the report, that plant was opened several years ago but never really started operations.
I hope the two plants will be built and operate as planned. I rather enjoyed writing this article about the Turkmen government doing something good for the country's people; I'd be happy to write about a happy ending when/if the freshwater starts flowing in Ereken and Hazar.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036