Mumbai – Having secured the development project of the strategically vital ‘Chahbahar’ Port in South-eastern Iran, India is keenly eyeing the Payra Port project in Bangladesh. China’s aggressive posturing in the Indian Ocean has been a matter of grave concern and India is actively working on countering same. China is currently developing Colombo Port in Sri Lanka and Gwadar Port in Pakistan.
Securing the Payra Port Project is considered essential to safeguard India’s national and strategic interests. ‘Talks are ongoing between India and Bangladesh, and Bangladesh is keen for India to take up this project’, said Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Situated in Southwest Bangladesh, close to Chittagong Port, Payra Port is considered to be of high strategic importance and is close to the Indian coast line. China had earlier expressed interest in helping Bangladesh develop a deep sea port. Considering its growing ties with India and concerned with China’s aggressive posturing in the region, Bangladesh cancelled the Sonadia Project in Cox’s bazaar awarded to China; dealing a severe blow to Chinese ambitions in the region. Instead, India expressed keen interest to assist Bangladesh to develop another deep sea port.
‘India Port Global’, a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Kandla Port Trust showed interest after Payra Port invited global entities to help in its development. Following this, Bangladesh contacted the Indian Government for further discussions on the project.
‘There are ongoing discussions between Indian Foreign Ministry and them (Bangladesh). We have sent a research team to Bangladesh to study the project ‘, Mr Gadkari has been quoted as saying.
This underscores the great success of the ‘Act East’ policy taken up by India. Assisting in development of ports for Iran in the West and Bangladesh in the East are being viewed as strong retaliation to Chinese moves in the region. ‘Chahbahar’ and ‘Payra’ both have great significance for security in times of war.
Pakistan’s Gwadar Port provides strategic benefits to China and Pakistan in the West. Former Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa entered into agreement with China to develop Hambantota and Colombo ports. These provide similar strategic advantage to China. These together with the (now cancelled) port project in the East in Bangladesh would have completed the Chinese ‘String of Pearl’ policy, aiming to encircle India in the Indian Ocean. This has been dealt a severe blow by India’s aggressive ‘Act East’ stand.
‘India’s recently concluded agreement to develop Iran’s Chahbahar Port is a great step towards turning the situation around’, said the Indian Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari. ‘Gas and Power are cheaply available in Iran, whilst there is a shortage of gas in our country. Using Chahbahar port, Indian goods can directly reach Afghanistan, Central Asian and Eastern European markets bypassing Pakistan. Kandla Port in Gujarat is expected to reap the maximum benefits from this arrangement’, thus informed Mr Gadkari.