Chabahar Port Opens, Connects India to Afghanistan via Iran
"The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air," Iran's President Dr. Hassan Rouhani said at the inauguration ceremony.
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 Dec. 3. The inauguration of the Phase I of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar, done by Iran’s President Dr. Hassan Rouhani, was also attended by Indian Minister of State (MoS) Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan and Minister of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan Humayoon Rasaw.
The port is being made with an investment of $1 billion, of which India has so far invested $235 million. The port’s capacity has been tripled to 8.5 million tons a year, Reuters quoted state television as saying. India’s commitment for the port is $500 million.
“The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air,” Rouhani said at the inauguration ceremony, according to an office statement.
The ministers at the inauguration also commended the shipment of the first cargo through Chabahar, from India to Afghanistan, which comprised 110,000 tons of wheat. The cargo was sent from Kandla port in Gujarat in October this year.
A statement from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said: “The Ministers agreed to further intensify efforts on issues concerning regional connectivity and focusing on Chabahar Port development under the Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement at the Trilateral Meeting. MoS (Shipping) expressed his positive appreciation to the Iranian side on the recent steps taken towards ratification by the Majlis of Iran on the Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement signed in May 2016 between India, Iran and Afghanistan.”
China, which through its One Road One Belt project is connecting East Asia with Central Asia, had indicated that India too needs to join the project. However, India has created an alternative for itself by developing the Chabahar Port. The Iranian port is only about 80 km from Pakistan’s Gwadar port.
The inauguration comes at a time when Pakistan is blocking access between India and Afghanistan.
In November, Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar said, “India has always conveyed its readiness to receive export laden Afghan trucks at its Integrated Check Point at Attari on the India-Pakistan border. However, Pakistan has regrettably chosen to block normal access between India and Afghanistan.” Akbar was speaking at the 7th Meeting of Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), which was formed to promote peace in Afghanistan.
“In effect, Pakistan has emerged as the largest wall in history, inhibiting connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This blockade is a crime against the people of Afghanistan; for it is their welfare which is affected the most,” the Indian politician added.
The Chabahar Port project was ratified in 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Iran, the first visit by an Indian PM since 2012.