Joint Use of Chabahar Port
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- International Relations
In News: The first Trilateral Working Group Meeting between India, Iran and Uzbekistan on joint use of Chabahar Port was held virtually recently.
- India welcomes the interest of Uzbekistan to use the Chabahar port as a transit port. This will open up economic opportunities for the traders and business community of the region.
- Besides Uzbekistan, other Central Asian countries have also shown interest in using this port. India wants to cooperate closely with regional countries on this issue.
- During the meeting, the participants discussed joint use of Chabahar Port for trade and transit purposes and enhanced regional connectivity.
- All sides also welcomed India’s proposal to hold “Chabahar Day” on the side-lines of the International Maritime Summit scheduled to be hosted by India in January 2021.
- The meeting was held as a follow up of decisions taken during the virtual summit held between Indian Prime Minister and President of Uzbekistan recently.
The port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost trade ties among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi.
- Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar located in south-eastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman.
- It serves as Iran’s only oceanic port, and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti.
- Located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Iran’s southern coast, the port can be easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
- It is considered to be a major transit point to connect with several Central Asian countries.
- The port of Chabahar is located on the Makran coast of Sistan and Baluchistan Province, next to the Gulf of Oman and at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the Indian Ocean. Being close to Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc., it has been termed the “Golden Gate” to these land-locked countries.
India and Chabahar Port
In May 2016, India and Iran signed a bilateral agreement in which India would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility at the port. The port is intended to provide an alternative for trade between India and Afghanistan. This port is 800 kilometers closer to Afghanistan than Pakistan’s Karachi port. In October 2017, India’s first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan was sent through the Chabahar Port.
Significance of Chabahar Port
- It gives a boost to India’s bilateral ties with Iran which is a major oil supplier for India.
- It will give India access to Afghanistan, Russia and Europe, thus circumventing Pakistan
- The port and the rail project (Chabahar to Zahedan to Zarang near Afghanistan border) will enhance connectivity, energy supplies and trade
- The port is also a key link in the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a multi-modal network of ships, rail and road routes to move freight between India to Russia via Iran.
- It will facilitate India’s role in Afghanistan’s development through infrastructure and education projects.
- It is the nearest port to India on the Iranian coast, which provides access to the resources and markets of Afghanistan and Central Asia.
- It is located 76 nautical miles (less than 150km) west of the Pakistani port of Gwadar, being developed by China; this makes it ideal for keeping track of Chinese or Pakistani military activity based out of Gwadar.
Connecting the Dots:
- The signing of the much anticipated bilateral pact with Iran for the development of Chabahar port is a significant step towards securing India’s strategic and economic interests. Comment.
- String of Pearls