The Chabahar Port which has been vehemently backed by New Delhi remains vital for India’s regional connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia. However, India has been encountering delays and deferments despite the US not sanctioning the strategic port. What is holding India back to fulfil its ambition of boosting its regional connectivity?
According to reports in Indian Media, the European and Chinese companies who had acquired the bid to supply equipment for the Chabahar port are now reluctant to cooperate. Senior Indian government officials stated that the suppliers dread the adverse impact on their business due to US sanctions, even-though India was exempted from sanctions by the United States.
The sanctions were imposed last year by the US after Washington pulled-out from the nuclear deal signed with Iran in 2015. As per a report by ‘The Print’, Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State is likely to recapitulate his government’s decision to exempt India from the sanctions on the use and development of the Chabahar Port.
The companies that were to supply equipment to India included Cargotec OYJ, the Finnish crane maker and Chinese crane maker Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries which was to supply four rail-mounted quay cranes.
A senior shipping ministry official on the condition of anonymity told ‘The Print’, “Though the US has confirmed that the Chabahar Port is exempted from sanctions, there is, however, nothing in writing. These are massive organisations and don’t want to jeopardise their business for operating in Iran, and that too for this one project.”
Arun Gupta, MD of India Ports Global Private Limited which is developing the Chabahar project states: “These heavy-duty equipment are critical for developing the port and are manufactured mostly by European and Chinese companies. We cannot source them locally.” He further added, “The two corporations have not commenced the supply of equipment so far and will go-ahead only when they exemptions are formally granted.