The government is hopeful that the strategic Chabahar Port in Iran will be operational by the end of 2018, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday. He further said that the port would be a “win win” situation for India, Iran and Afghanistan as it would serve as a “growth engine” for the entire region.
Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Balochistan province of Iran, lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast.
“We are hopeful of starting operations at Chabahar Port by the end of 2018. It will be a win-win situation for India, Iran and Afghanistan as trade and business through this route could reach to even Russia and Europe,” Shipping, Road Transport, Highways and Water Resources Minister Gadkari said at an event here.
“India can be a big market for Iran and investors from here can invest there,” Gadkari said adding that Iran is expected to send an application to the EXIM Bank of India for providing the first tranche of loan from the USD 150 million credit line.
For greater trade and investment flows with Iran and neighbouring countries, the Cabinet last year cleared proposals for the development of Chabahar port including a USD 150 million credit from Exim Bank.
It also authorised the shipping ministry to form a company in Iran for implementing the Chabahar Port Development Project and related activities.
As per the MoU signed between the two nations in May last year, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of USD 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.
Ownership of the equipment will be transferred to the Iranian side on completion of 10 years or for an extended period, based on mutual agreement. The Iranian side had requested for provision of a credit of USD 150 million in accordance with the MoU.
Gadkari said the contract for four key mounted quay cranes at Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar, has been finalised. The minister added that bottlenecks for the project have been removed and work was likely to be fast-tracked.
Last month, the minister had been to Tehran as a special envoy of India deputed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the second tenure of Hassan Rouhani as the President of Iran. During his visit, both sides had reiterated their commitment to complete and operationalise the port at the earliest that would provide alternate access route to landlocked Afghanistan. (PTI)
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