Iran will handover the strategic Chabahar port to Indian company within a month for operation as per an interim pact, Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said.
Akhoundi is in India to participate in the Mobility Summit by Niti Aaayog on the invitation of India government.“Now, we are ready just to handover the port (Chabahar) to the Indian company just to operate this in interim agreement that already we had with Indian part for one and a half year,” Akhoundi said.The Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province in the energy-rich nation’s southern coast is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port located at distance of around 80 km from Chabahar. Akhoundi after a meeting with his Indian counterpart Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said: “We have already moved one step forward…We should introduce a banking channel to India, which we already did it and fortunately has been formally accepted by the Indian side”.
He said India has also introduced a banking channel, which has been approved by Iran’s Central Bank.
“Indian side had investment in Chabahar port and we are moving towards utilisation of the Chabahar port,” Akhoundi said, adding that the handing over of the port should be done “during one month. We have done everything”.The first phase of the Chabahar port was inaugurated in December 2017 by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, opening a new strategic route connecting Iran, India and Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
The Chabahar port is being considered as a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries, besides ramping up trade among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi.
“The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air,” Rouhani had said at the inauguration ceremony.
Under the agreement signed between India and Iran earlier, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10-year lease.