Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari said that India expects the strategic Chabahar port, which will give sea-land access to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan, to be operational by December 2016. The Port of Chabahar is a seaport in Chah Bahar in southeastern Iran. Its location lies in the Gulf of Oman. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.
Chabahar port is a joint venture of Kandla Port Trust (KPT) and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) of India and
Iran. India intends to lease two berths at Chabahar for 10 years. This port is strategically very important for India and rest of the world as they do not need the help of Pakistan ports to reach Afghanistan. Chabahar port enables the access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway by using the existing Iranian road network and the Zaranj-Delaram road, constructed by India in 2009. If everything goes well, this strategic Chabahar port will be opened by 2016.
Because of its ease of access to ocean as well as Oman Sea and Persian Gulf, long ago it was the centre of business, trade and navigation. India eyes on spending a mammoth amount of Rs. 2 lakh crore in Chabahar port. The investments, however, will depend on the outcome of the negotiations on gas price as Iran has offered to supply natural gas at $2.95 while India wants rates to be lowered.
Chabahar Port – Current Status
The project’s strategic nature is illustrated by its location along the coast from the Chinese-funded Gwadar port in Balochistan. The Iranian government has signed a MoU with the Government of India to develop the Chabahar port. With US and other western nations easing up on sanctions against Iran, thanks to the nuclear deal it signed with the West, India has been in talks with the gulf country to set up a gas-based urea plant at Chabahar based on a gas discovery made by ONGC.