Iranian authorities dropped the Indian participation in the construction of the Chabahar Port. Even as China signed a multi-billion-dollar deal with Iran under a strategic partnership, a delay in funding is cited as the latter's decision to continue the construction on its own. The Chabahar Port is located in the Gulf of Oman.
In May 2016, India and Iran had agreed on a bilateral agreement. According to this agreement, India was to repair a berth at the Shahid Beheshti port. The nation was also responsible for constructing a 600-meter-long handling facility for containers at the Chabahar Port. Given India's intent to invest heavily in the Chabahar Port, it is expected that some form of relaxation in US sanctions may be underway.
Chabahar Port - Geopolitical Significance
Due to its unique location, Chabahar serves as an important link that connects Central Asia, South Asia, and Middle Eastern locations. India's involvement at the Chabahar Port involves building a railway line from this particular port to the Hajigak region in Afghanistan. The country took over the operations at the Chabahar Port in December 2018 in the Sistan and Baluchestan provinces.
The first shipment of wheat from India to Afghanistan was linked through this port. The port is the only one on the Iranian side of oceanic ports but also consists of two different ports, namely, Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti. In many ways, the Chabahar Port is highly significant to India.
Importance of Chabahar Port
The following reasons highlight why the Chabahar Port serves as the focus of geopolitical relevance to the country.
- The port serves as a centre to boost trade, diplomatic and military ties with Iran.
- Provides an option to connect Indian land with Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
- Serves as a gateway to the North-South transport corridor, which provides connectivity to rail, road, and sea routes around Central Asia, Russia, India, and Iran.
- In the event of a necessity, the Chabahar Port can help India carry out humanitarian operations.
- The Chabahar Port can also act as a defence post for India since it lies at a mere distance of 170 km from Gwadar port which China currently operates.
- On the Iranian coast, the Chabahar Port lies closest to India, which serves as an access point for the market and resources of Central Asia and Afghanistan.
- The port will help strengthen India's role in development initiatives in Afghanistan through various infrastructure and educational projects.
- As soon as the Chabahar Port becomes functional, iron ore, rice, and sugar imports to India will boost. The development of the port may also help decline the cost of imported oil to India.
FAQs on Chabahar Port
Q.1. Name some of the most prominent ports existing in India other than the Chabahar Port.
The prominent ports existing in India other than the Chabahar Port are Mumbai port trust, Deendayal Port Trust in Gujarat, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai, which is the largest container port in India, Paradip port trust, Chennai port, Mormugao port trust, and Kochi port trust.
Q.2. What is the current status of India's role in the Chabahar Port project?
As of 14 July 2020, Iran has begun to construct the rail link that will connect Chabahar Port with Zahedan, claiming that there is a delay in the release of funds by India. As of now, there is no further development on this front.
Q.3. Does The Chabahar Port fall under the defensive security of any nation?
At present, the Chahabar port enjoys the protection of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its military bases located in Konark, Iran, all across the bay of Chabahar to the west.
Q.4. Elaborate on the Significance of the Chabahar Rail project.
The Chabahar rail project will connect the border of Afghanistan on the Chabahar Port to the Zahedan railway line. It will be further extended to Zaranj to connect the border regions, totally amounting to a distance of 628 km.