The Union Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkaari, has said in Teheran that Chabahar port being built in Iran would open a gateway to golden opportunities and there would be no looking back.
Gadkari is in Teheran to attend the oath-taking ceremony, for the second term, of the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, as the special envoy of the Prime Minister.
‘Once Chabahar is made operational, which we hope would happen in 12 to 18 months, it will prove to be a gateway for boosting trade and business.’ Talks are on for building railways and roads through Chabahar till Afghanistan,’ he said.
Situated in the Sistan-Balochistan province in the energy-rich Persian Gulf nation's southern coast, Chabahar lies just outside the Gulf and is easily accessed from the western coast of India, bypassing Pakistan.
Gadkari said he was hopeful of ratification of Trilateral Transit and Transport Agreement by Iran and once these approvals were given the work will start. The trilateral pact was signed when the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, visited in Tehran in May last year.
The pact would lead to the establishment of the Transit and Transport Corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan using Chabahar port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three countries. The pact had been ratified by the Cabinet and the President in December last year.
Afghanistan has also ratified it, according to an official from that country, but Iran is yet to complete the internal processes of ratification.
Gadkari said operationalization of the port will not only accelerate the infrastructure projects but will be a "win-win situation" for the three nations as it would give tremendous boost to trade and offer enormous opportunities to investors.
The port will not only boost ties between Iran and India but we will be closer to Afghanistan and also to Russia, with result we can export goods till Russia. This will be a direct route. India has built the Zarani-Delaram road in Afghanistan. And the‘ rail route is aimed at connecting the existing network of Iran at Zehedan and later Mashhad in the north, thus providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan through its connection to the Mashhad route.
The Chabahar-Zahedan railway line, built by the Indians, is located in the Sistan- Baluchistan province in eastern Iran, and it will significantly open up trade and business opportunities between the countries of the region.
Gadkari’s visit is expected to accelerate work on the Chabahar port and finalize some tenders for installation of key equipment for the port. ‘Civil construction work has started and we have finalized tenders worth Rs. 38 crore for equipment out of the Rs. 600 crore and once the port becomes operational it will become the growth engine,’ Gadkari said. The Cabinet has already cleared proposals for the development of the port, including a 15-million dollar credit from the Exim Bank.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding the two countries signed last May, India will equip two berths in Chabahar Port Phase I with a capital investment of 85.21 million dollars and an annual revenue expenditure of 22.95 million dollars on a 10-year lease. Besides the bilateral pact to develop Chabahar, for which India will invest 500 million dollars, a trilateral agreement on a transit and transport corridor has also been signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan.