India Expects Chabahar Port to be Operational Within Months

Grain terminal at Chabahar (Agriculturalengineer96 / CC BY SA 4.0)

Published Mar 7, 2021 11:08 PM by Ankur Kundu

A move that has long been termed as India's biggest gamble in the middle east is close to being finished. 

As Iran's Chabahar Port project nears completion, hopes are high in New Delhi as India looks to stake its claim as a major geopolitical force in the region. The country has been actively involved in developing a part of the Iranian port. It will not only prove as a significant way to transport goods to Iran, but also Afghanistan and Central Asian countries, avoiding Pakistan on the route. 

There has been longstanding friction between Pakistan and India as well as Afghanistan, dating all the way back to the founding of these countries. New Delhi sees Chabahar as a strategic port to circumvent Pakistan and access new markets.

U.S. sanctions on Iran slowed down the port’s development, but Indian officials are now betting on an improvement in relations between Washington and Tehran under the new U.S administration. 

India has invested nearly $500 million in two new terminals at Chabahar, but the port project has encountered hurdles, particularly the Trump administration's sanctions on Iran. Indian officials are optimistic that the long-running initiative will bear fruit within months. 

“I am expecting to visit Iran in April or May for the inauguration of full operations,” Mansukh Mandaviya, India’s Ports and Shipping Minister told Reuters.

Under the agreement signed by Iran and India, the latter would develop two terminals in the Southern Iranian port with a lease of 10 years.

Top image: Grain suction machinery at Chabahar port, 2020 (Agriculturalengineer96 / CC BY SA 4.0)