India has commenced work on developing Iran’s Chabahar Port and will soon select a private player for the development of a multipurpose berth and a port terminal at an estimated investment of $85 million. Adani Enterprises and JSW Group are among those interested in the project, officials aware of the development said.
The move assumes geopolitical significance because China is marching ahead in executing the Gwadar Port in Iran.
India Ports Global Private Limited (IPGPL), a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Kandla Port Trust (KPT), has invited preliminary bids, under the first phase of development, for the selection of a developer to set up the multipurpose berth and the port terminal, the officials said.
IPGPL — created and incorporated on January 22, 2015 by the government for development of ports overseas — decided to carry out the bidding process to select the strategic private partner for management, operation and maintenance of the container and multipurpose terminals at the Chabahar Port.
At present, the company has a kitty of ~100 crore, sanctioned by the ministry of external affairs.
According to the officials, the reason the central government is keen to appoint a private player for the job is because it is of the view that neither Kandla nor JNPT has the expertise to execute the assignment.
India and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on May 6, 2015 regarding the development of the Chabahar Port. This pact was translated into a contract between IPGPL and Aria Banader Iranian Port for equipping and operating the container and multi-purpose terminals at first development phase of Shahid Beheshti– Chabahar Port.
The Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for the development of regional maritime transit traffic to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Participation in the Chabahar Port development will provide India an alternative and reliable access route to Afghanistan utilising India’s earlier investment in Zaranj-Delaram road built in Afghanistan, and also a reliable and more direct sea-road access route into the Central Asian region.
The port’s location at the Arabian Sea means, that it would be able to skirt any challenges posed by developments in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.