On December 3, 2017, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the first phase of strategic Chabahar Port. Minister of State for Shipping, Pon Radhakrishnan represented India at the inauguration function.
About Chabahar Port:
Chabahar Port is located in South-Eastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman.
- Iran has invested about one billion dollars in completing the first phase of the Chabahar Port. The first phase has been named Shahid Beheshti port.
- Chabahar port has two docks and an international airport. Besides, Iran’s Navy and Air Force also have bases in the city, which adds to the strategic importance of this port.
- From Iran’s perspective, Chabahar port has emerged as a rival to Gwadar Port, which is located just 80 kilometers away in Pakistan. Pakistan has been building Gwadar Port with Chinese investment.
Strategic relevance of Chabahar Port from India’s Perspective:
In 2016, India and Iran had signed a bilateral agreement to refurbish and develop certain parts of Chabahar Port. As per the agreement, India is to equip and operate two berths in the Phase – I of Chabahar Port on a 10-year lease. This agreement entails capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million.
- From Indian perspective, Chabahar port (easily accessible from India’s western coast) will serve as an alternative trade route to Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries, bypassing Pakistan.
- Pakistan has been denying transit permission for trade between India and Afghanistan by citing the reason that India is using Afghanistan as a base to destabilise Pakistan.
- In October 2016, India sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port in Iran.