India has come “under pressure” from Iran to complete the Chabahar Port project, with the lifting of Iranian trade sanctions, reports Hindu Business Line.
Acting strategically to China’s repeated attempts to wean away India from Chabahar Port upgradation, India is taking steps to firm up its bilateral negotiations and alliance with Iran.
According to highly placed sources, both sides have also arrived at a deadline to complete the talks on LNG terminal.
A top official, involved in the talks, has reportedly said that India is under pressure to complete the Chabahar project. It has to be done by the first half of this year.
The first phase of the $31-billion Chabahar Port project involves construction and operation of two berths there.
In the second phase, India is eyeing the participation of private players – Jindal Infrastructures, Essar, SAIL and IRCON – to develop the area around the port which involves developing a free trade zone and a railway line connecting Afghanistan and the Central Asian region.
Iranian port of Chabahar will provide an alternative route for India to trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
Apart from this, India is also now speeding up talks for picking up stake in Iran LNG Terminal. After discussions, both sides have decided to complete the talks by February 6 with a one-month grace period. ONGC Videsh Ltd just held a meeting with the Iranian authorities last week, the official said.
India’s presence in Chabahar will offset the Chinese presence in the Pakistani port of Gwadar. It also takes advantage of the centuries-old connection with Iran, especially at a time when Iran’s economic sanctions are lifted.
The Iran side suggested participation of India’s public and private sectors in development of Chabahar Port and Chabahar free trade zone and in setting up industrial units in the FTZ.