The Indian government is hopeful that the strategic Chabahar Port in Iran will be operational by the end of 2018, informs Indian NDTV quoting Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Shipping, Road Transport, Highways and Water Resources.
“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,” Nitin Gadkari said at an event in Delhi, adding that the port would serve as a “growth engine” for the entire region. He is also quoted to say that the bottlenecks for the project have been removed and work is likely to be fast-tracked.
As we wrote earlier, the port of Chabahar is Iran’s only oceanic port, as it is located in the Sistan-Balochestan province on the southeastern tip of Iran, on the Gulf of Oman. Lying outside the Persian Gulf, it is easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between India and Iran in May last year, India is to develop and operate a container terminal in this small multipurpose port. At its Phase 1 the 30,000 TEU facility will have two container berths 640m long and 16m deep and 195 ha of land. The project is managed by India Ports Global, a JV between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust, in partnership with Iran’s Aria Banader.
The Indian government earlier approved a USD 150 mln credit line from Exim Bank for the port development. Now Nitin Gadkari says that Iran is expected to send an application to the EXIM Bank of India for providing first tranche of it.
Last month, the minister was in Tehran at the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani as the President of Iran for the second term. During this visit, both sides reiterated their commitment to complete and operate the port at the earliest that will contribute to the trade and economic development in the region and also provide alternate access to landlocked Afghanistan to regional and global markets.
In May 2016, the trilateral transit and transport agreement was signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan, establishing the Transit and Transport Corridor for transportation of goods and passengers across the three nations using Chabahar as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran.
Besides, the corridor also involves the construction of the 500-km rail link between Chabahar and Zahedan which is also done by India. The rail route is aimed at connecting the port to the existing Iranian rail network at Zahedan, and subsequently to Mashad in the north, thereby providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan through its connection to the Bafq-Mashad route.
Also, India has already built the Zaranj-Delaram road in Afghanistan to connect the cargo routes to Zahedan.