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Developed by India, Chabahar port terminal in Iran fast becoming a transit hub for the region

Chabahar Port in Iran has provided a more economical and stable route for landlocked countries of the Central Asian region to reach India and the global market (Image courtesy: Ministry of Transportation of Uzbekistan)

Moving swiftly to build an international transport corridor by connecting South Asia with Central Asia and beyond, India will be sending a high level delegation to Chabahar early next year following an invite from the government of Iran.

The decision was taken during the second Trilateral Working Group meeting between India, Iran and Uzbekistan on the joint use of Chabahar Port which was held virtually on Tuesday.

It takes forward New Delhi's efforts on having an inter-connected Eurasia through the development of Chabahar port in Iran and also enhancing connectivity with the landlocked region via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

During the meeting, the three countries exchanged views on the establishment of cooperation on the effective use of the port of Chabahar being developed jointly by India and Iran to enhance regional connectivity.

Sanjeev Ranjan, Secretary of India's Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways; Ali Akbar Safaei, Secretary, Deputy Minister and Managing Director of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation and Abdossamad Mumenof, Secretary, Ministry of Transportation of Uzbekistan, participated in the meeting.


The trio discussed extensively the development of mutually beneficial relations in the field of transport and logistics complex and transport corridors connecting the Central Asian region with the Iranian port.

India and Iran also made presentations of ongoing investment projects to develop the infrastructure of the port of Chabahar, as well as the conditions for using the potential of this transport, transit and logistics hub by foreign countries.

Referring to the Chabahar International Memorandum of Understanding and the development of transit through Shahid Beheshti Port in the form of trilateral cooperation between Iran, India and Afghanistan, Iran's Safaei stated that the unloading and loading operations at the strategic port have grown significantly.

"We hope that with the full cooperation of India, Iran, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries, the activity of Chabahar port will be more than before," said Safaei.

 India, in its presentation, highlighted how Chabahar Port has provided a more economical and stable route for landlocked countries of the region to reach India and the global market.

It was in May 2016, during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Iran, that a trilateral agreement to establish the International Transport and Transit Corridor (Chabahar Agreement) was signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan.

The India Ports Global Limited (IPGL), through its wholly-owned subsidiary India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ), took over the operations of the Chabahar Port on December 24, 2018.

Since then, it has handled 160 vessels, 14,420 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) and 3.2 million tons of bulk and general cargo.

The Shahid Behesti Terminal, Chabahar Port has also handled shipments and trans-shipments from various countries including Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Germany, Ukraine, Oman, Romania, Bangladesh, Australia, Kuwait, Uzbekistan and UAE.

"We need to create a mechanism that allows Uzbekistan to connect to Chabahar for the transit of goods, so that other Central Asian countries can access Chabahar," said Ranjan while emphasising that Chabahar is fast becoming a transit hub for the region.
Uzbekistan's Deputy Minister of Transport, while describing the historical and cultural bond between the three countries, revealed that the volume of trade between Tashkent and New Delhi has increased significantly in the last 12 months.

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Mumenof said that Uzbekistan believes that the port of Chabahar can play a significant role in facilitating transportation and logistics between the countries of the region. He also announced that an Uzbek delegation would visit the port soon.

While discussing optimization of tariffs, timing and safety of cargo delivery, the participants also underlined the important role played by Chabahar Port during humanitarian crisis.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in reply to a question in Lok Sabha last week on the present status of the Chabahar Port project, had mentioned how it facilitated the delivery of humanitarian assistance, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"India has utilized the Chabahar port to ship 75,000 MT of wheat as humanitarian food assistance to Afghanistan in 2020. Till date, a total of one lakh ten thousand tons of wheat and two thousand tons of pulses has been trans-shipped from India to Afghanistan," Jaishankar told Members of the Parliament.

India has committed total grant assistance of USD 85 million and a credit facility of USD 150 million for development of Shahid Behesti Terminal, Chabahar Port.

As part of its commitment towards infrastructure development of the port, India has also supplied six Mobile Harbour Cranes (two 140 tons and four 100 tons capacity) and other equipment worth USD 25 million to Iran.

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