Private firm may be inducted into JV to develop Chabahar port1 min read . Updated: 03 Mar 2014, 11:24 PM IST
Investment in Chabahar will be routed through a company in which Kandla and JN ports will hold equity stakes
Bangalore: India may induct a private firm into a planned joint venture between two Union government-owned ports to develop a port at Chabahar in Iran, three people briefed on the plan said.
India and Iran will shortly sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for developing Chabahar port, they said.
Chabahar is an important port along Iran’s Makaran coast and offers Iran easy access to the Indian Ocean. India has decided to invest some $100 million (around ₹ 619 crore today) in developing Chabahar port, which is considered strategically and economically important for the country’s exports to landlocked Afghanistan. It will be the first overseas venture by ports owned by the Indian government.
India has been eyeing Chabahar port for nearly a decade to get easier access to Afghanistan.
The investment in Chabahar will be routed through a company in which Kandla and Jawaharlal Nehru ports would hold equity stakes. “We have taken an in-principle approval from the government to set up a special purpose company, which will be jointly owned by Kandla port and Jawaharlal Nehru port. An Indian private firm may also be inducted to develop Chabahar port," a spokesman for the shipping ministry, one of the two persons mentioned earlier, said.
JN port, India’s busiest container gateway, will develop container loading facilities and Kandla port, India’s biggest cargo handler by volume, will set up dry bulk handling facilities at Chabahar port.
After several rounds of negotiations and site visits by India, Iran has forwarded a memorandum of understanding to India outlining the terms and conditions of the Chabahar project.
“India has asked Iran to relax some of the MoU conditions, including facilitating the induction of a third party into the Kandla-JN port joint venture to develop Chabahar port," the shipping ministry spokesman said. “We have sounded out a few Indian private firms in this regard."
“Once Iran agrees to the relaxations sought by India, the MoU will be signed," he added.
Spokespersons for Kandla and JN ports confirmed the development. Chabahar is closer to India than the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, which is about 380 nautical miles away. Circumventing Pakistan, Chabahar port can serve as India’s entry point to Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond. The port can be connected to the Zaranj-Delaram road in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province via Milak, built with Indian assistance.