As a recent update, Iran dropped India from the Chabahar Port and decided to continue with its construction on its own. Iran authorities mentioned the delay in funding as the reason. Also, China signed a 400 billion dollars strategic partnership deal with Iran. However, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has ruled out reports of India being left out of the prestigious Chabahar rail project and has termed media reports on the topic as speculative.
Aspirants need to know the facts about Chabahar Port development since it is important from the perspective of International Relations in the IAS Exam
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What is Chabahar Port?
Chabahar Port is located in Sistan and Baluchestan province in the Southeastern part of Iran, on the Gulf of Oman. In December 2018, India took over the operations of the Port. It was being operated by India Ports Global Private Limited (IPGPL). India’s first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan was sent through Chabahar Port. India began building a railway line between Chabahar port and Zahedan as part of the North-South Transport Corridor. Chabahar port is about 170 km away from Gwadar Port built in Pakistan by China.
What is the Meaning of Chabahar?
Chabahar is made of Persian words Chahar meaning four; and bahar meaning spring. It translates as a place that has spring in all the four seasons of the year. Chabahar is important for its fishery sector and will act as an important trade center connecting South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. India is involved in plans to build a railway line from this place to the mineral-rich Hajigak region of Afghanistan.
Why is Chabahar Port Important to India? What is its Geopolitical Significance?
The multiple reasons behind the geopolitical significance of the Chabahar port are listed below.
- Boost trade ties, diplomatic ties, and military ties with Iran.
- Provides India with better connectivity to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
- It will be the gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor which is a combination of road, rail, and sea routes connecting Russia, Europe, Central Asia, Iran, and India.
- India can carry out humanitarian operations from this port if the need arises.
- This port is just 170 km away from Gwadar port operated by China in Pakistan, hence this port would be of strategic importance to the Indian Navy and defense establishment.
Chabahar Port & India – Investments & Chronology of Developments
So far, Iran has signed only 2 agreements with India for investment in Chabahar.
- It is related to Chabahar Port’s types of machinery and types of equipment. The equipment will be worth the US $ 85 million.
- The 2nd deal is India’s investment worth $ 150 million. This amount was for the development of Phase 1 of the Port. Additionally $ 500 million credit is made available to Iran for importing rail tracks and operationalizing the port.
- As per the deal, Iran’s Arya Banader and India Ports Global Private Limited (IPGPL) will develop and operate 2 terminals and 5 berths for 10 years, following an 18-month lease at Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar.
- Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar consists of a 5 phase development plan. 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. The cost incurred in phase 1 was $ 1 billion.
- After a series of meetings between Indian and Iranian Foreign Ministry; the Indian Ministry of External Affairs earmarked $ 13.9 million in fiscal 2020-21, for the development of Chabahar Port.
- One of the key projects that were of keen interest to India and Iran was the linking of Chabahar Port to the Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan. This is a 215 km long highway that was already built in Afghanistan through assistance provided by India. However, the railway line deal was yet to be finalized. As per recent newspaper reports in India, Iran had reportedly dropped India from the plan. The claims made in media were officially refuted by both Iran and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
How Many Major Ports are there in India?
As per data from the Ministry of Shipping, 95% of India’s trade by volume is done through maritime transport. Currently, India has 12 major ports.
- Mumbai Port Trust
- Deendayal Port Trust also called Kandla Port Trust – Located in Gujarat
- Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Navi Mumbai – Largest Container Port in India
- New Mangalore Port Trust – Located in Karnataka
- Kochi Port Trust
- Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Port Trust also called as Kolkata Port Trust
- Paradip Port Trust – Located in Orissa
- Visakhapatnam Port Trust
- Mormugao Port Trust – Located in Goa
- Chennai Port
- V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust formerly known as Tuticorin Port Trust – Located in Tamil Nadu
- Kamarajar Port Limited – Earlier known as Ennore Port – Located 18 km north of Chennai.
The Government of India plans to modernize all the ports of India through the Sagarmala Project.
The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2020.