News ID: 14132
Published: 0336 GMT October 24, 2014

India sets up cell for Chabahar Port project

India sets up cell for Chabahar Port project

The Indian government has set up a cell to speed work and monitor the setting up of Chabahar Port in Iran within a deadline.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has nominated four officers for coordinating the work.

Last week, the Indian cabinet decided to set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV), with equity participation from Kandla Port Trust (KPT) and JNPT, Business Standard reported.

After setting up the cell, a consultant would be appointed to prepare the memorandum of association, equity structure and the details of SPV. The two ports would sign a contract with Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization for undertaking the project.

Located on the confluence of Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman in southeastern Iran, Chabahar is India's first foreign port project. While the port is outside the Persian Gulf, it's strategically significant, providing access to Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond.

Originally floated by the government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2003, the project has been delayed considerably. Despite issues of viability, India wants to take up Chabahar Port as a strategic project, aimed at satisfying the immediate security interests of establishing a sea-land route into Afghanistan.

Ministry officials said with China's influence in infrastructure development growing in the neighborhood, there has been a systemic push for initiating India's long-overdue involvement as well.

China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHECL) had displayed an interest in developing Chabahar Port.

Pakistan's Gwadar Port, around 70 km east of Chabahar, was developed by CHECL, with the Port of Singapore Authority being the minority partner.

While Gwadar Port is available for use, its reliability as a point of export for India has been inconsistent at best. With both the port's provenance and importance in mind, the NDA government has been proactively pursuing the finalization of the project.

With the cabinet clearing the plan to invest $86 million in the Chabahar Port project, India is aiming to begin port development in five months.


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