Iran is expected “very soon” to approach Exim Bank here seeking disbursement of the first tranche of $150 million loan to fast-track the development of Chabahar Port in the gulf nation, official sources said. As per the pact signed between the two nations in May last year, 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.
Ownership of the equipment will be transferred to the Iranian side on completion of 10 years or for an extended period, based on mutual agreement. The application from the Port and Martitime Ogranisation of Iran is to go to the EXIM Bank of India. As per the pact for development of the port, the contract will be activated from the day the loan is disbursed.
“We did request Iran to do some quick action to send us the first application for the credit and I am very happy to mention that this application was presented to the Central Bank of Iran to the Bank of Industries and Mines in Iran which should now be forwarded to the EXIM Bank of India… “Very soon the first tranche of the credit line will be disbursed to the Port and Maritime Organisation in Iran,” a Shipping Ministry official said.
The Iranian side during the discussions for finalisation of contract agreement for Chabahar Port had requested for a credit of $150 million for its development. “In accordance with request made by PMO of Iran, the activation of this contract is linked to provision of credit to Iran,” as per the Shipping Ministry.
Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Balochistan province in the energy-rich Persian Gulf nation’s southern coast, lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
Last night Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said the government is hopeful that the strategic Chabahar Port in Iran will be operational by the end of 2018 and it would be a “win win” situation for India, Iran and Afghanistan as it would serve as a “growth engine” for the entire region.
For greater trade and investment flow with Iran and neighbouring countries, the Cabinet last year cleared proposals for development of Chabahar port including a $150 million credit from Exim Bank. It also authorised the shipping ministry to form a company in Iran for implementing the Chabahar Port Development Project and related activities.
Last month, Gadkari had been to Tehran as a special envoy of India deputed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the second tenure of Hassan Rouhani as the President of Iran.
During his visit, both sides had reiterated their commitment to complete and operationalise the port at the earliest that would contribute to bilateral and regional trade and economic development and also provide alternate access to landlocked Afghanistan to regional and global markets.
India has already built the Zaranj-Delaram Road in Afghanistan where the cargo reaching Zehedan can connect to.
The rail route is aimed at connecting the existing rail network of Iran at Zahedan, and subsequently to Mashad in north area, thereby providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan through its connection to the Bafq- Mashad route.
This project will significantly enhance the opportunity for trade and business among the nations. Chabahar-Zahedan Railway line project is located in the Sistan-Baluchistan province in eastern Iran.
Besides, the bilateral pact to develop the Chabahar port, for which India will invest $500 million, a trilateral Agreement on Transport and Transit Corridor has also been signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran.