Part of Chabahar port handed over to India
What is the issue ?
- Signing of a lease contract between India and Iran will eventually lead to India taking over a part of the Chabahar port in Iran in the coming days.
About the agreement :
- The Port and Maritime Organization of Iran leased out to India Ports Global Limited a part of the Phase 1 of the Chabahar Port (a.k.a. Shahid Behesti Port) of the Islamic Republic for 18 months.
Importance of the port for India :
- The Chabahar Port will give India a sea-land access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan, which has been playing spoilsport to initiatives for connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia.
- The port’s strategic importance for India grew further after Pakistan handed over the control of its Gwadar Port to China.
Chabahar Port background :
- It was in 2003 that India and Iran first agreed to develop the Chabahar port, located in the Gulf of Oman near Iran’s border with Pakistan, to allow New Delhi to reach markets in Afghanistan and landlocked Central Asia.
- The project was delayed due to international sanctions on Iran over its suspect nuclear programme and India’s focus on concluding a civil nuclear pact with the US.
- Interest in the project was rekindled in 2013 after Iran and the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany reached an interim agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme and some sanctions were lifted.
Who will responsible for development/maintainence of the Chabahar port ?
- India Ports Global Pvt. Ltd (IPGPL), a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Kandla Port Trust (KPT) for development of ports overseas will develop and operate the Chabahar port.
Strategic importance of Chabahar :
Chahbahar port, located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Iran’s southern coast is of strategic utility for India. It lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast. It is located on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with Pakistan.
The port will allow India access to landlocked Afghanistan and energy-rich Central Asia through JNPT and KPT-run ports on India’s west coast.
India has also built a road link connecting Delaram with Zaranj in Afghanistan, which is adjacent to Iran’s border. Also, the port will promote Indian strategic interests in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz.
Why is Chabahar port important for India ?
The Chabahar as a transit point will be the center of a regional trade, investment and transportation hub with links from the Indian Ocean to Central Asia. For the first time, India will get access to the region through friendly nations.
1. Chabahar and its road connectivity to Central Asia
- From Chabahar port, the existing Iranian road network can link up to Zaranj in Afghanistan, about 883 km from the port.
- The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan's Garland highway, setting up road access to four major Afghan cities --Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif. Mazar e Sharif is near to Uzbekistan.
2. Afghanistan will get a politically sustainable connectivity with India
- The Chabahar-Zahedan-Zaranj corridor is a potential game-changer for regional connectivity, as it gives an alternative access for Afghanistan to India via the sea. This connectivity will enhance the development nature of economic engagement between the two countries.
3. No need to depend on China sponsored Road and Belt projects to connect with Central Asia
- At present, Central Asia is getting lot of connectivity projects sponsored under the China sponsored Road and Belt Policy. India is not a part of the endeavor and in this context, an own initiative will help India to avoid dependence on China sponsored Central Asian connectivity.