India is all set to get its first overseas port with the Union Cabinet expected to clear the long-delayed Chabahar project in Iran within the next fortnight.
Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari expected the Cabinet to clear it in the “next 10-15 days.”
Located along the Makran coast in the Gulf of Oman, Chabahar is in close proximity to the Strait of Hormuz which facilitates about 40 per cent of the world’s oil trade, and hence has significant strategic implications for India.
Not only would it allow India easier access to Afghanistan and Central Asia without having to depend on Pakistan, it is also being touted as India’s answer to Chinese control over Pakistan’s Gwadar port, just 76 km from Chabahar.Vajpayee’s dream
The port was a dream project of the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had inked a memorandum of understanding for its joint development with the then Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, in 2003.
“Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji had initiated this project 13 years ago… within the next 10-15 days we will present a note before the Cabinet and it will be cleared… this will be our first port outside India… it’s a great achievement,” said Mr. Gadkari.
“The distance between Chabahar and Mundra ports is less than that between Delhi and Mumbai… it [presents] a golden opportunity for transportation of gas, urea, etc.,” he said.
The port will be developed by a joint venture company formed by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the Kandla Port Trust (KPT).
“I have asked the JNPT and KPT to work on this port on a war footing,” said Mr. Gadkari.