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Iran offers management rights for Chabahar Port.

Date: 04-12-2017
Subject: Iran offers management rights for Chabahar Port
NEW DELHI: Iran has offered India management rights for Phase-1 of Chabahar Port launched by the country’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday in presence of MoS Shipping P Radhakrishnan a day after Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj was in Tehran to push Delhi's agenda. 

Eyeing a foothold in the region barely 100 kms from Pakistan's Gwadar port built and managed by China India has alloted $ 235 mn for expansion of Phase -- II of strategically located Chabahar Port besides another $ 500 mn for development of Chabahar Port complex including SEZ. 

Earlier India sent first wheat consignment to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port on Oct 29. It may be recalled that India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral pact in 2016 for use of Chabahar port. The October shipment is a part of commitment made by India to supply 1.1 million tonnes of wheat for the people of Afghanistan on grant basis. Six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan over the next few months. 

The opening ceremony at Chabahar port at the confluence of Oman Sea and the Indian Ocean was attended by 60 representatives from 17 countries. The project, due to its strategic location, links the region to Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), according to Iranian officials. 

Tehran has offered New Delhi a proposal to manage phase one of the Chabahar port built by Iran. The offer involves management rights for two years and such rights could be renewed by another decade, according to one of the officials quoted above. Japan is also partnering India for expansion of the Chabahar Port complex – one of India’s primary connectivity initiatives for the region that juxtaposes of sorts with China’s BRI. 

The operationalisation of Chabahar will also boost India's efforts to conenct with resource-rich Central Asia and Russia as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan following Pakistan's refusal to allow India access via its territory to Afghanistan. It will open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries and the wider region, according to officials here. 

While the US is hardening its position over Iran and has decertified the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, the Chabahar Port is out the purview of American sanctions. 

India's allotment of 235 million USD for Chabahar port expansion is divided into two parts -$150 million Line of Credit (LoC) from the EXIM Bank for development/expansion of the port and $85 million - for supply of equipment to develop two berths in the port. 

A Special Purpose Vehicle has been created by the Indian Shipping Ministry for development of phase two of the Iranian port. India has been given the rights to operate two berths and few terminals in the phase two of the port. 

India also plans to construct railway line between Chabahar and Iranian city of Zahedan to connect Port to rest of the Iranian railway network. The port, through this railway network, could also be linked with the International North South Transport Corridor that proposes to connect India with Russia and beyond. Chabahar is planned to be linked with Delaram-Zaranj road (built by India in Afghanistan & connects at Afghan-Iran border) via rail through Zahedan. A road already connects the Iran-Afghan border point to Chabahar. 

Two Indian fertiliser firms are looking to establish a urea and ammonia plant in the Chabahar free trade zone. Additionally, NALCO and Iran’s Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization have already held discussions to establish an aluminium smelter plant in the free trade zone. India is eyeing thriving free trade zone in Chabahar to make the port viable, indicated a person familiar with the developmen .. 

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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