Economy, Domestic Economy

India to Commence Chabahar Project Soon

India to Commence Chabahar  Project Soon
India to Commence Chabahar  Project Soon

India is all set to acquire its first overseas port with the cabinet of India expected to clear the long-delayed Chabahar project in Iran within the next fortnight.

Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari expected the cabinet to clear it in the “next 10-15 days,” The Hindu reported Tuesday.

Located along the Makran coast in the Gulf of Oman, Chabahar is in close proximity to the Strait of Hormuz which facilitates about 40 percent of the world’s oil trade, and hence has significant strategic implications for India.

Not only would it allow India easier access to Afghanistan and Central Asia without having to depend on Pakistan, it is also being touted as India’s answer to Chinese control over Pakistan’s Gwadar port, just 76 km from Chabahar.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari said last week: “Iran’s hydrocarbons complement India’s energy need,” adding that there are three specific considerations reflective of it: “Iran’s location on the Persian Gulf, its vast supplies of hydrocarbons and the country’s location on the western borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

According to the Hindu, the port was a project of the former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had inked a memorandum of understanding for its joint development with the then Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, in 2003.

 “The distance between Chabahar and Mundra ports is less than that between Delhi and Mumbai… it [presents] a golden opportunity for transportation of gas, urea, etc.,” he said.

 “Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji had initiated this project 13 years ago… within the next 10-15 days we will present a note before the Cabinet and it will be cleared… this will be our first port outside India… it’s a great achievement,” said Mr. Gadkari.

Ali Jahandideh, the deputy head of Ports and Maritime Organization, said Sept. 1: “Iran plans to develop the southeastern port of Chabahar with or without the cooperation of India.” Speaking to the Tasnim news agency, Jahandideh said that India has raised the issue of investment in Chabahar port for years but no deal has been signed yet.

“Simultaneously, we are exploring domestic companies (to sign a deal) because we do not want to lose time for the development of the port,” Jahandideh noted.

The port will be developed by a joint venture company formed by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the Kandla Port Trust (KPT).

“I have asked the JNPT and KPT to work on this port on a war footing,” Gadkari said.

India has allocated $100 million for development of Chabahar port in Iran, Afghan envoy to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali said in August.