After bagging the strategically important Chabahar Port in Iran, the government is looking eastwards and is in discussions with Bangladesh to develop a similar facility in Paira.
India Ports Global, the joint venture between state-run JNPT and Kandla Port for overseas ports, is interested in the expressions of interest which have been invited for construction of Paira/Payra port in Bangladesh, the Shipping Ministry said in a release on Friday.
"...talks are on between our Foreign Ministry and them (Bangladesh). Dhaka also wants us. We have sent a team there for studies," Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters, but did not disclose the port's location.
A media report in February had said China had evinced keen interest in building the Paira port. In what was taken as a reflection of the growing Indo-Bangladeshi ties, Dhaka had cancelled the deal and was about to award it to New Delhi.
The Narendra Modi government has been talking about an 'Act East' policy, as against the previous regime's 'Look East' policy, and the moves to build maritime infrastructure in Iran in the West and Bangladesh in the East seem to be part of that approach.
The move can also be construed as a reply to the aggressive play by China, which is developing a port in Colombo and Gwadar in Pakistan.
"The Shipping Ministry is closely following the developments in regard to the Paira port so as to secure our national and strategic interests," the release added. It can be noted that China has embarked on what is referred to as 'string of pearls' strategy, under which it is creating such assets across the circumference of the Indian Peninsula in the Indian Ocean Rim region.
Gadkari's comments come days after New Delhi secured a deal to build the strategic Chabahar port in Iran with an initial capex commitment of USD 500 million, which will help serve our interests in the Gulf country coming out of sanctions, and in the broader region as well.
The minister on Friday said an immediate benefit of developing the Chabahar port will be cheaper gas availability, which can help reduce the urea subsidy bill by Rs 45,000 crore.