The Chabahar Port Project

The Chabahar Port Project

In the past weeks, the internet broke on the news of India being dropped out of the Chabahar railway project citing financial delay on India’s part. None of the governments confirmed the news which filled the internet with a lot of speculation and left the Indian masses worried about the major blow. However, now the Iranian government has confirmed that India is very much a part of the project.

In the light of the ongoing events, let’s understand a little about The Chabahar Port Project and its importance to India.

What is the Chabahar Port?

Chabahar port is a seaport located in the southeastern parts of Iran, in the Chabahar region. It is situated on the Gulf of Oman. Chabahar is Iran’s only oceanic port and consists of two ports- Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti. Iran agreed to work with India on the construction of the Chabahar port back in 2003, however, sanctions levied on Iran prevented India from doing so.

In 2016, India and Iran signed a bilateral agreement wherein India pledged to help construct the Chabahar port and in return was granted the right to access the port. In an attempt to strengthen ties with both Iran & Afghanistan and to also develop a more secured trading route to Afghanistan; India, Afghanistan & Iran signed a trilateral agreement to develop the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project popularly known as The Chabahar Railway Project. This project includes a direct rail link between Chabahar and Zahedan (which is a city on the border of Indore-Afghanistan).

Why is Chabahar Port important to India?

  • Prior to independence, India had a direct trade link to Afghanistan which later go cut off due to the partition and creation of Pakistan. As the situation grew hostile between India and Pakistan, the trade environment worsened. The Chabahar port allows India to bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan
  • Chabahar is the gateway to central Asia with direct trade routes to many European countries
  • India can counter the heavy presence of China in the Arabian Sea owing to its control of the Gwadar port in Pakistan
  • The project brings political sustainability between the member countries of Iran India and Afghanistan which helps boost trade and increases export avenues for India

The Chabahar project holds great importance due to its geographical presence on the Gulf of Oman. There has been significant trade boost & financial investment by India, hence it is in the best interest of India that project stays put.