• Nitin Gadkari may meet Iranian counterpart Abbas Akhoundi in a bid to hasten Chabahar project

    Shipping and roads transport minister Nitin Gadkari is likely to meet his Iranian counterpart Abbas Akhoundi next month in an effort to fasttrack the development of strategically important Chabahar port.

    The agenda of the meeting, for which venue and date are yet to be finalised, would be to expedite the work on development of the port through India’s investment and also set up industries within the port. India wants Iran to provide substantial land in the Chabahar SEZ for setting up of petrochemicals, fertilizer and other gas-based industries by Indian companies. Iranian ambassador to India Gholamreza Ansari met Gadkari at his office in Transport Bhawan on Thursday to review the plan.

    “Both ministers are scheduled to meet in July to work on the implementation of the plan for development of Chabahar port. They will also chart out the road map of port-led development in the area,” said a senior government official.

    “The venue and the dates for the meeting are yet to be formalised,” the official said. In May, India, Afghanistan and Iran had signed the trilateral trade treaty for developing the Chabahar port. The ministerial level agreement was signed in Iran in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.

    The strategic location of the port will allow India to access Central Asia through Afghanistan by skipping Pakistan. India would invest $500 million to develop the strategically important port, close to Iran’s border with Pakistan. The deal envisages development and operation for 10 years of two terminals and 3 berths at the port with cargo handling capacities. India will take 18 months to complete phase one of the construction. The port will be connected to Zahedan on the Iran-Afghan border through a railway line, which will also be built by Indian construction company IRCON. The port will also be used to ship crude oil and urea, saving India transportation costs. It will also cut transport costs and freight time for India to Central Asia and the Gulf by about a third. Terry Bradshaw Authentic Jersey

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