'India keen to develop ports in Africa, Bangladesh, Iran'

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New Delhi, April 12: Pursuing its pro-active maritime policy, the government has expressed keenness to develop ports for various countries including Africa, Bangladesh and Iran.

"During the recent summit of heads of African nations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressed desire that India can join hands with various African nations for building roads and ports. My ministry will take up such works once the responsibility is given to us," Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said here on Monday.

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Talking to journalists at Foreign Correspondents Club here, the minister said the agreement between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal to work on mutual infrastructure development and cooperation is unique and has gone down "very well".

Gadkari also said the Modi government has undertaken major legislative reforms in last two years towards codification, rationalisation and simplification of maritime statutes.

India, he said, has already taken preliminary steps to construct a deep water port at Payra in south western Bangladesh.

This port and opening up of Chittagong and Mongla ports in Bangladesh to bilateral commerce will give immense boost to relations between two countries, he said.

The minister said a high-level delegation of his ministry will visit Bangladesh to work out details for the Payra port, which would be closer to Indian coastline too.

On June 6, 2015, during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Dhaka, India and Bangladesh inked the agreement on Coastal Shipping for two-way trade through ports and also had signed an MoU for use of Chittagong and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India.

The agreements seek to reduce not only the time in shipping goods but also costs.

In fact, Gadkari said on Monday that India is keen to use Chittagong port for transporting goods to northeast India, which otherwise suffers a lot due to poor road link with the mainland.

The external affairs ministries of both sides have already held talks for the port development, the minister said.

Similarly, he said India is very much keen to develop Chabahar port in Iran and added that connecting Chabhar to Kandla will have an immense impact in long term perspective.

India has already pledged investment of about Rs.2 lakh crore in developing the strategic port in Iran, which would provide India a sea-land access route to Afghanistan.

This can in future open up road communication even to Russia and beyond, he hoped.

Gadkari said the on-going visit of an Indian delegation led by union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to Iran will give further boost to cooperation on various sectors including port development, road transport and highways as a team of officials from his ministry is also in the visiting team.

"We will come to know of details once the delegation led by Dharmendra Pradhan returns," Gadkari said.

IANS

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