‘Chabahar port to be operational by December 2016’
India expects the strategic Chabahar port, which will give sea-land access to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan, to be operational by December next year, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said.
Notwithstanding US objections, India earlier this month had inked a pact with Iran for the development of the port. “Work has started on the Chabahar port. There is a joint venture of Kandla Port Trust (KPT) and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).... We will start port activities in a year or a year-and-a-half,” Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Gadkari said in an interview here.
He said a draft agreement will be signed within three months in this regard. “I have given the orders to bring out tenders for purchasing cranes for the port. An agreement will be signed within a month,” Gadkari said. The port will be developed through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) which will invest $85.21 million to convert the berths into a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal.
India intends to lease two berths at Chabahar for 10 years. Access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway can be made from Chahbahar port using the existing Iranian road network and the Zaranj-Delaram road, constructed by India in 2009.
This would establish road access to four of the major cities of Afghanistan -- Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif. The port will be also used to ship crude oil and urea, saving India transportation costs. It would cut transport costs and freight time for India to Central Asia and the Gulf by about a third. Earlier on May 6, <g data-gr-id="30">an MoU</g> was signed by Gadkari and Iran’s Minister for Transport and Urban Development Dr Abbas Ahmad <g data-gr-id="29">Akhoundi</g> after comprehensive talks between Gadkari and Iranian leadership during his visit to the country.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in his meeting with Gadkari, had said: “Resumption of Iran-India cooperation in the southeastern Iranian port city of Chabahar would lead to a new chapter in relations of two countries.”