Chabahar port project to take off soon: Indian min


Indian Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadakri has said the work on the Chabahar Port will begin soon once the tender process is over and hoped the project will open a new gateway for development of India, Iran and Afghanistan by boosting regional connectivity and trade.

All the three nations are keen on expediting tripartite transit agreement on the Chabahar port, Gadkari told PTI after holding a meeting with delegations from Iran and Afghanistan.
"We are keen on expanding scope of cooperation to cover development of the entire Chabahar Port...This port is going to open a new gateway not only for the development of India but at the same time the development of Afghanistan and Iran. This is a win-win situation," Gadkari said.
Gadkari along with Iran's Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi and Afghan's Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Mohamadullah Batash held discussions on expediting trilateral agreement on establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor i.e, the Chabahar Agreement signed on May this year in Tehran in presence of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Presidents of Iran and Afghanistan.
Gadkari said India is committed to developing the Chabahar Port in Iran and the work would commence soon after the completion of the tender process.
Wednesday's meeting was held barely a fortnight after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during their talks in New Delhi, had stressed that expediting the trilateral pact would augment connectivity among the three nations.
Gadkari said, "We will try to complete the project within the time schedule. We are also finding out what are the new things for which we will have opportunity for development and investment. The Iranian Minister has given lots of innovative suggestions regarding the development of business."
"We are in the process and our prime minister is very keen on the project. The distance between Kandla to Chabahar is less than the distance between Delhi and Mumbai. So there are lots of opportunities. Gas and petroleum products in Iran are available. We will get the market of Afghanistan also and the material from Afghanistan to Chabahar will be accessible to India," he added.
He said the problems in the project have been sorted out and the nations are looking on building up on this friendship and creating more business opportunities.
A milestone pact on the strategic Chabahar port in southern Iran, which will give India access to Afghanistan and Europe bypassing Pakistan, was inked by India and Iran in May this year after detailed discussions between Modi and the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Besides the bilateral pact to develop the Chabahar port, for which India will invest $500 million, a trilateral agreement on transport and transit corridor was also signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran, which the Prime Minister Modi has said could "alter the course of the history of the region".
Gadkari and the visiting ministers reviewed the latest situation on contract between Iran and India on the project, as well as procurement of equipment and financing.
They also stressed on the need for expanding scope of cooperation to cover development of entire Chabahar Port, projects for funding by EXIM Bank of India and reviewing participation of India in the Chabahar-Zahedan rail construction project.
During the meeting it was decided to organize a connectivity event involving all stakeholders at Chabahar within two months to increase awareness about the new opportunities offered by the Chabahar Port, according to an official statement issued on Thursday.
The ministers expressed satisfaction that the three countries are taking prompt measures for completing internal processes for the ratification of the agreement.
"They also exchanged views on the next steps to be taken for an early implementation of the agreement. It was decided to evolve protocols related to transport and transit, ports, customs procedures and consular affairs. It was also decided to convene an expert-level meeting of senior officials of the three countries within one month in Chabahar," it said.
Development of ports, road and rail connectivity will open up new opportunities leading to new jobs and prosperity in all three countries. Trade is recognized as driving economic growth and development, the implementation of the agreement would provide the ecosystem for the private sector to seize the business opportunities emerging due to substantial reduction of logistic costs for trade among the three countries, it said.
During the meeting, it also came up that the road transit from Chabahar to Zahedan and Milak is very limited at present and it needs to be augmented, apart from building the rail link.
Chabahar port, located in Iran’s Sistan-Balouchestan province on the energy-rich Persian Gulf nation's southern coast, lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India's western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
"The bilateral agreement to develop the Chabahar port and related infrastructure and availability of about $500 million from India for this purpose is an important milestone," Modi had earlier said in a joint media interaction with Rouhani.

(Source: Business Standard)