Iranian India cooperation on Chabahar Port
The Chabahar Port Project has immensely strengthened the Indo-Iranian ties, which has well balanced out the growing Chinese-Pakistani cooperation.
Chabahar Port is a seaport in the Sistan-Balochistan province of Iran, on the Gulf of Oman, which has been developed by India. It serves as Iran’s only oceanic port and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti.
Its geographic proximity to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) gives it the potential to develop into one of the most important commercial hubs.
Chabahar Port Project is one of the focussed projects of India. India, in May 2016, signed a INR 720 Crore Chabahar Agreement to establish the International Transport and Transit Corridor. Construction of the Chabahar Port and the construction of a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan are the major highlights of the project.
Through the Chabahar Port Project, the cargo would be brought to the Bandar Abbas port and Chabahar port and free Kabul from its dependence on Pakistan. The Chabahar Port will give India access to Afghanistan and beyond to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Europe via the 7,200-km-long multi-modal North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
One of the key projects of keen interest to India and Iran was linking Chabahar Port to the Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan.
The Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan is a 215 km long highway that was already built through assistance provided by India.
Moreover, the Chabahar Port Project provides an option for an alternate supply route of goods, thus reducing the weightage of Pakistan, which was the only option available till some time back.
Iranian Ambassador to India, Iraj Elahi on Friday lauded India’s effort in the development of its Chabahar port. Speaking at a press briefing, he said, “The core concept of cooperation between Iran and India in Chabahar has three elements – construction of ports, its connection with the main railway network of Iran and sending cargo through Chabahar. By these three components, we can judge the level of cooperation with India.”
Elahi further elaborated that Iran could itself build infrastructure in Chahbahar, we did not need the help of other nations and reasoned out why India was its foremost choice for the collaboration.
“Since the beginning, there were three elements – first of all, we asked India to send its cargo through Chabahar, India is a maritime country, too many ports — is a well-experienced, skilful country in maritime. We expected that India will send its cargo through Chabahar and help us, teach us, and train Iranians to expand its ports.
Moreover, due to sanctions, Iran did not have enough money for investments and construction of different infrastructures we sided with India,” said the Iranian envoy.
Also, the US sanctions on Iran have no bearing on India’s Chabahar Port Project, and the port is functioning well. The Biden Government in the US has given separate exceptions for the strategic Chabahar port project.