EghtesadOnline: Amid deepening Indo-Iranian ties, New Delhi is hopeful that the strategic Chabahar Port will be operational by 2018.
Road, Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, who was quoted as stating the above by Indian daily The Pioneer, represented India at the oath-taking ceremony of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier congratulated Rouhani on his reelection as the president of Iran and affirmed India’s commitment to strengthen the special relations between the two countries.
“India and Iran have been historically sharing special ties ... We are keen on developing Chabahar Port and are hopeful of starting operations in 12 to 18 months,” Gadkari said on the eve of his visit to Tehran, according to Financial Tribune.
Gadkari is keen on expediting development of Chabahar, located in Sistan-Baluchestan Province on the energy-rich Persian Gulf nation’s southern coast that can be easily accessed from India’s west coast, bypassing Pakistan.
The visit assumes significance, as India has accelerated work at the port and finalized some tenders for the installation of key equipment there.
“Civil construction work has started there. We have finalized tenders worth Rs. 380 crore (about $60 million) for equipment out of Rs. 600 crore (about $94 million) and once the port becomes operational, it will become a growth engine,” he said.
Gadkari also said that he was hopeful of certain approvals from the Iranian government for expediting work and added that once Chabahar becomes operational, trade and business between the two nations would see a boost.
For greater trade and investment flow with Iran and neighboring countries, the Indian Cabinet last year cleared proposals for development of Chabahar, including through a $150-million credit from the Indian Exim Bank.
It also authorized the Indian Shipping Ministry to form a company in Iran for implementing the Chabahar Port Development Project and related activities.