After committing to develop Chabahar port in Iran, India Government has set its eyes on developing the Payra port in Bangladesh. Building foreign ports is part of a new manoeuvre, for thwarting China’s growing influence in the region.
The Payra port is located in Patuakhali district of Southern Bangladesh, on the Bay of Bengal. Over $ 3 billion investment would be required for the port project. HR Wallingford, a UK based marine consultancy company, has been mandated to prepare a master plan for the port development.
A senior Shipping ministry official told BusinessLine after Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s early June visit to Bangladesh, initial studies have been commenced for Payra port in the ministry. The Bangladeshi officials are likely to submit the port survey data and technical studies by September or October. The decision to develop the port is based on strategic considerations and not economic ones, the official said.
It has a potential to be developed into a deep-water port handling large vessels but the perennial silt from the local rivers is a cause of worry.
The official said that Bangladesh has Chittagong and Mongla ports but Chittagong sufferers due to excessive traffic and shallow draft. The Mongla has problems of inadequate road and rail connectivity,
Therefore Payra is seen as way out this logjam. Since independence in 1971, Bangladesh has not built a new port and desperately wants to build one, as it has a booming export oriented garment export industry. The port will also be able to get a lot of container traffic bound for the North-East region of India, the official said.
The official pointed that previous government lacked a doctrine and a strategy for developing ports in other countries. A number of East African countries including Malawi had approached UPA government for port development in their countries but such opportunities were ignored. Under Modi Government port related developments in East Africa would be given a priority, for which an international conference would be held in September.