India all set to ink deal to develop Chabahar port in Iran

April 26, 2015 - 0:0

India is poised to counter the recently announced $46-billion expansion of China’s strategic footprint in Pakistan with a foothold on the Iranian coast.

New Delhi is set to ink a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the development and operation of Chabahar port in Iran.
The MoU is expected to be signed in Tehran by the Indian roads, transport and shipping minister, Nitin Gadkari, very soon.

Merely 72 kilometers west of China-developed Gwadar port in Pakistan’s restive province of Baluchistan, Chabahar, on the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, provides India a land-sea access route into Afghanistan and Central Asia through the Bandar Abbas-Caspian Sea axis.

Although the inter-governmental MoU between India and Iran involves a joint venture investment of $85.21 million that will allow operation of the port for 10 years, New Delhi is examining the option of signing the agreement and injecting the money later so it does not violate any international obligations.

According to plans, the Indian JV will develop two berths at Chabahar, one to handle container traffic and the other a multi-purpose cargo terminal. With sea-land access to Afghanistan as part of the MoU, New Delhi has plans to build a road-railroad network from Chabahar to Milak in Iran in order to link it with the Indian-built 223-km Zaranj-Delaram road in Afghanistan so that aid could be pushed to Kabul and beyond.

Chabahar port will also allow Indian goods into Central Asia using the existing north-south corridor to counter Beijing’s domination in the region as reports indicate Indian traders are using Chinese ports to push goods into Kazakhstan.

(Source: Hindustan Times)