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India’s strategic port project at Chabahar without full-time MD

Wednesday, 17 February 2021 | 17:00

India Ports Global Ltd, the state-owned entity tasked with developing and running the strategically important and India-funded Chabahar port in Iran, has been without a full-time managing director five months, after the previous incumbent demitted office on September 18.

The Shipping Ministry had entrusted Harjeet Kaur Joshi, chairperson and managing director of Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI), with the additional role of Managing Director of India Ports Global Ltd, for a further six months after her initial three-month temporary assignment ended in December.

The government received four applications for the post when it was advertised a few months ago. The interview for the post, however, is yet to be held, a government source briefed on the matter, said.

Among the applicants for the post is Alok Mishra, Head, Operations, Gateway Terminals India Private Limited (GTI), the facility run by A P M Terminals Management B V, a unit of Danish shipping group A P Moller-Maersk Group A/S, at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust near Mumbai.

Salim Shikalgar, Chief Operating Officer, Ameya Logistics (majority owned by Singapore’s PSA International); Sanjay Mhatre, Vice President, Purchase, Hamilton Housewares and Lt Col Biju Warrier, have also applied for the post.

The list has been submitted to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT); it is shuttling between DoPT and the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, the source said.

“IGPL is without a full-time MD who is well-versed with the subject,” said a person tracking the strategic port venture.

H K Joshi, he said, is fully engrossed in the strategic disinvestment and day-to-day affairs of SCI. “It is doubtful whether she is able to devote enough time for the Chabahar port project. The delay in naming a new full-time MD for India Ports Global is not doing any good for the Chabahar project”, he added.

India Ports Global and Aria Banader Iranian Port & Marine Services Company (ABI) of Iran signed a deal in May 2016 to equip and operate the container and multi-purpose terminals at Shahid Beheshti – Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $ 22.95 million on a 10-year lease. Cargo revenues collected will be shared by India and Iran as per an agreed formula.

Located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Iran’s South-eastern coast (outside the Persian Gulf), Chabahar port gives India a sea-land access route into Afghanistan and Central Asia through Iran’s eastern borders. The project is considered a strategic venture for development of regional maritime transit traffic to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

The project has been bogged down by delays due to the US sanctions. Though the 10-year operation period is yet to start, India and Iran have operationalised the port partially in the so-called zero period given the challenges over financing purchase of some key cargo handling equipment.

Since starting operations, Chabahar has handled over 15 lakh tonnes of cargo which includes bulk, container, livestock and general cargo, using the ship’s crane.

In January, India supplied two mobile harbour cranes (MHC) of 140 tonne capacity each manufactured by Italy’s Italgru S.r.l to Chabahar port, which are currently undergoing commissioning.

Four more MHCs of 100 tonne capacity each will be supplied over the next few months.

The six MHCs are worth over $25 million.
Source: The Hindu Business Line

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