Minister: India not under pressure to stop Chabahar Port development

New Delhi, Aug 3, IRNA - Indian Minister of Road Transportation, Highways and Shipping reaffirmed that India is not under any foreign pressure to refrain from developing the strategically important Chabahar Port in Iran.

In an exclusive interview with IRNA here on his upcoming visit to Iran to participate at the 2nd inauguration of Dr. Hassan Rouhani as the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nitin Gadkari said: “India is not under any pressure from any country on not developing the Chabahar Port and the Indian government has allocated Rs. 6 billion for development of the Port, out of which, around Rs. 4 billion has been approved for securing the required equipments such as cairns.”

“The civil work of the port which was given to the Iranian maritime department is already completed. We have given orders for cranes of Rs. 1.65 billion which has to be finalized. Third issue is related to some other equipment. Fixation of these equipments will take 12 to 18 months and after that we can start operation. But we will try to make it as early as possible. All these equipments and cairns are imported. So, now we are in a position to get Iranian’s approval and they have already cleared the things and probably, in a small ceremony during my visit, we will hand over the work order to the manufactures of the cranes,' he added.

On the reasons for the delay in development of the Chabahar Port, he said: “My ministry is fully committed for faster development of the Chabahar Port. But, for this, we need approval of the Iranian government and also approval of the foreign ministries and some other bodies of the two countries. All these make the presses slow. But, our motto is to accelerate the project. Initiating economic activities will be beneficial for both Iran and India. There are huge opportunities for the cooperation between the two nations and we shall pave the ground for the same. Following the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narandera Modi to Iran and his detailed discussions with the Iranian president, I feel there should not be any problem in this regard.”

On the strategic importance of the Chabahar Port for India, Gadkari said: “From the logistic point of view, it is very important for India. Now, after the visit of Prime minster, we have a very good relation with Iran. Regarding to the availability of gas in Iran, the Indian Fertilizer Ministry and private sector are showing keen interest in investing in Iran. But, there are lots of issues, including the gas price which need to be sorted out through extended communication. Majority of the Indian investors are very interested. For example, we need urea for which we need natural gas. From the fertilizer point of view, it is very important. But, the most important fact is that the distance between the Kandla Port and the Chabahar is less than that between Delhi and Mumbai. By going to Chabahar Port, we can export to and import from Iran, Afghanistan and Russia any goods. So, the Chabahar Port is a gateway for us in doing business with Iran, Afghanistan and even Russia. Both the Iranian and Indian governments are keenly interested in this project and a number of agreements were signed during the Indian Prime minster's visit to Iran. Since the President Hassan Rouhani has been reelected, I am sure that the process will be accelerated.”

On his possible meetings in Iran during the visit, Gadkari said: “Through the diplomatic channels, we are trying to get appointments for meetings with the Iranian president, Minister of transportation and speaker of parliament. Last time during my visit to Iran along with the Indian Prime Minister, I had opportunity to meet all of them. I have met twice the Iranian minister for transportation during my visit to Chabahar Port.”

“Now, after the visit of Indian Prime minster to Iran, we have very good relations with Iran. But, regarding to the availability of gas in Iran, the Indian Fertilizer Ministry and private sector are showing keen interest in investing in Iran. But, there are lots of issues, including the gas price which need to be sorted out through extended communication. Majority of the Indian investors are very interested. For example, we need urea for which we need natural gas. From the fertilizer point of view, it is very important. But, the most important fact is that the distance between the Kandla Port and the Chabahar is less than that between Delhi and Mumbai. By going to Chabahar Port, we can export to and import from Iran, Afghanistan and Russia any goods. So, the Chabahar Port is a gateway for us in ding business with Iran, Afghanistan and even Russia. Both the Iranian and Indian governments are keenly interested in this project and a number of agreements were signed during the Indian Prime minster to Iran. Since the President Hassan Rouhani has been reelected, I am sure that the process will be accelerated.”
On the prospect of the Indian investments in Iran in future, he said: Everything depends of development of the Chabahar Port. It can be a growth engine for our trade and economic ties. Once this project is completed, there will be great opportunities for Iranians to invest in India and Indians to invest in Iran. Therefore, the Chabahar port is the most important element in this regard.”

On the status of ties between Iran and India during the last three year of PM Modi government, Gadkari said: “Prime Minister Modi has specially visited Iran and a number of agreements between Iran, India and Afghanistan were signed during the visit. Overall approach of the Indian government and Prime Minister is to improve India’s relations with its neighbors and, according to this policy, we are trying to improve our ties with both Iran and Afghanistan. At the same time, we have to identify the potential areas for doing business. But, everything depends on the Chabahar Port as the transport is possible only through the port.”

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