India to fully operationalise Chabahar port soon

 New Delhi, Jan 8: India is hopeful to fully operationalise the strategic Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province of Iran; and the government has allowed an Iranian bank to open a branch in Mumbai for related transactions, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said Tuesday.

           Gadkari, after Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif called on him, said that the meeting was “fruitful” and both the sides could resolve several issues.

           “Chabahar port is very important for us. We are working very hard on it… Some problems were there, but the Iranian government and their minister… are also in the process to resolve all the issues as early as possible. I am confident that we will be in a position to start full function of Chabahar Port at the earliest,” Gadkari said.

           The Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province in the energy-rich nation’s southern coast is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port located at distance of around 80 km from Chabahar.

           Zarif said, “We are very happy that both UCO Bank from India and Pasargad Bank from Iran are getting started with the business.”

           The two banks will facilitate transactions relating to operation of berths at Chabahar port.

           Shipping and Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has given all clearances to an Iranian bank which to open a branch within the next three months.

           “The government of India has given permission to an Iranian bank to open its branch in Mumbai. It is going to open within three months, and will be used for transactions (related to Chabahar port),” Gadkari said.

           India has placed USD 85 million machinery order for Chabahar, he said.

           He said India has already taken over partial operations at Chabahar, and the first ship from Brazil has already been received at the Iranian port.

           This is the first time India will be operating a port outside its territory.

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