India is all set to start operations on a part of
the Chabahar Port in the next two months on borrowed Iranian equipment. The
internal arrangement to operationalize the port is part of the agreement signed
during Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s visit to India last week.
Under the deal, Tehran will lease out operational
control of a part of Chabahar Port, to India for 18 months. India will provide
cargo handling equipment including cranes and operate two terminals in Chabahar
Port Phase-I with capital investment of 85.21 million US Dollars. The Indian
company which will operate the terminal will incur an annual revenue
expenditure of 22.95 million US Dollars on a 10-year lease as per the
Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries three years ago.
A short-term lease contract has been signed to
borrow equipment from Iran to start interim operations on a part of the port
where the work is complete. The interim arrangement has been agreed upon
between the Iranian President and Indian Prime Minister during the former’s
official visit to New Delhi. Under the arrangement Iran will provide the
equipment till Indian completes the process of procuring equipments in the
international market, which is expected to take a couple of months.
We will have a foothold in Chabahar Port by May.
This will give a boost to our plans to connect India with Afghanistan and
Central Asia, an official of the Shipping Ministry said.
India is building at Chabahar Port, a Container
Terminal and a Multi-Purpose Cargo Terminal with a total waterfront length of
1,240 metres. India wants to put into
operation at least 360 meters by May-end. “Project Special Purpose Vehicle
(SPV) will be in place by March-end. We are in the middle of the process to
select the SPV,” said an official of India Ports Global Private Limited (IPGPL)
which will be operating the terminal.
IPGPL is a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru
Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust to
develop Chabahar. The port, located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province of Iran
on the South-Eastern coast, is of great strategic importance to India. It will
provide the country an alternative and reliable route into Afghanistan,
bypassing Pakistan, and give it access to resource-rich Central Asia.
After his meeting with Rouhani, Prime Minister
Narendra Modi had said Chabahar was the “golden gateway to Afghanistan and the
central Asian region”.
India, Iran and Afghanistan have already signed a
transit agreement for easy passage of Indian goods to their territory. India
will be building a dedicated railway corridor from eastern Iran to Afghanistan.
Two months ago India sent a wheat consignment to Afghanistan through the
Chabhar port, the first Indian consignment to reach Kabul through sea bypassing
Pakistan. Islamabad has put lot of road blocks in the movement of Indian goods
by land route to Kabul through Pakistan.