LOCATION OF CHABAHAR PORT
Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of Iran. It consists of two important ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti, each of which has five berths. Basically India is developing two berths on the Shahid Beheshti port for 10 years lease.
It is only 72 km from Gwadar port in Pakistan which has been developed by China.
India and Iran first agreed to develop ‘Shahid Beheshti’ port in 2003 but India was deterred by sanctions.
In June 2015, the Chabahar Agreement was first signed and approved in November 2016.
Meanwhile, in 2016, India, Iran, and Afghanistan signed the trilateral agreement for the establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries by using Chabahar port in Iran as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation.
SIGNIFICANT OF THE CHABAHAR PORT
- It gives access to Afghanistan, Russia, and Europe.
- It is the Gateway to the international North-South transport corridor.
- There will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar, and rice to India.
- Iran also becomes a military ally to India.
- Countering Chinese presence in the Arabian sea.
- To enhance connectivity, energy supply, and trade.
- The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India connects Iran from Afghanistan four major cities- Kandahar, Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif.
- A rail line to connect Iran and Afghanistan.
CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING THE CHABAHAR PORT
- The development of the Chabahar port can impact the relationship between India and the USA as the USA has imposed sanctions over Iran.
- The Taliban in Afghanistan is a matter of worry for India.
- China is also developing the Gwadar port in Pakistan (72 km away) and has completed the lease agreement of 40 years.
IMPORTANT FOR INDIA
- Considered as a gateway to golden trade opportunity for India.
- India can bypass Pakistan with Chabahar port.
- Port to boost India-Iran trade.
- To ramp up trade among India, Iran, and Afghanistan.
IMPORTANT FOR IRAN
- Only port with direct access to the Indian Ocean.
- 800 km closer to Afghanistan than Karachi port.
- Can generate employment, rope in investment.
IMPORTANT FOR AFGHANISTAN
- Port beneficial for Afghanistan’s economy.
- Can reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on Karachi port.
- Easily accessible from India’s western coast.
CAPACITY AND COST
Moreover, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with a capital investment of USD 85.21 million and an annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.
Shahid Beheshti Port(Chabahar) consists of a 5 phase development plan. While in December 2017, Phase 1 was inaugurated. Phase 1 helped in the expansion of Ports capacity from 2.5 million tonnes to 8.5 million tonnes.
FUNCTIONING OF THE PORT
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the first phase of Chabahar Port December 2017.
On the positive side, India had sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar port, marking the opening of the new transit route in October 2017.
This project is the linking of Chabahar Port to the Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan. The Zaranj-Delaram Highway is 215 km long in Afghanistan. India provided assistance to build this Highway.
RAIL LINE PROJECT
Chabahar-Zahedan rail line is a 628km long rail line. It will be extended to Zaranj across the border Afghanistan. The rail line project will be completed by March 2022. India and Afghanistan plan to extend the rail route from Herat to Mazar-i-Sharif. Mazar-i-Sharif is already linked with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan via rail as well as via road routes with other central Asian nations.
This project would give a boost to trade as India will get access to Afghanistan and beyond to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Europe. This project is also important in Countering Chinese presence in the Arabian sea.