The Chabahar port in Iran, which gives India access to central Asia bypassing Pakistan's Gwadar Port, which is being built by China, was inaugurated on December 3. While India made a deal worth over Rs 50,000 crore a year ago to develop Chabahar special economic zone, it had already taken several other measures to increase cooperation with Afghanistan and Iran.
Chabahar Port is geographically located in a very convenient position for India, which is in Southeast Iran at the Gulf of Oman and serves as Iran's only Oceanic Port in the Indian Ocean.
The overall development of the port is planned in four phases and is expected to bring its total annual cargo capacity to 82 million tonnes.
The Indian government has committed $500 million to Chabahar, with the aim of joining an increasingly important transport corridor to resource-rich regional countries, according to Indian sources. In fact, reaching out to Afghanistan is one of the prime strategic objectives of the Chabahar port project for India. It is easily accessed from India's western coast, thus bypassing Pakistan. The two ministers are understood to have reviewed the implementation of the Chabahar port project in which India is a key partner. "We welcome the development of friendly relations between the regional countries and conduct mutually beneficial cooperation", he said. India's state-owned IRCON has agreed to build a rail route at a cost of $1.6 billion as part of the transit corridor to Afghanistan.
New Delhi views the Chabahar port project as a strategic response to China's development of the Gwadar port in Pakistan, and its aggressive pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative. Chabahar also has an global airport and Iran's Navy and Air Force have bases in the city, adding to the ports value. Gwadar is a deep-sea port in the Arabian Sea in Balochistan province of Pakistan, close to Iran, which is only about 80 Kms from Chabahar. "It was also chose to convene an expert-level meeting of senior officials of the three countries at the earliest", the joint statement said.
Reiterating the importance of Chabahar as a hub for regional economic connectivity and their commitment to work towards this objective, the Ministers commended the joint efforts of the three countries in the recent successful transit of wheat from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar.
Giving a boost to the bilateral ties between India and Iran, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has made an unannounced visit to Tehran, while returning from Sochi in Russian Federation, ahead of the inauguration of the strategically important port.
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