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Why Chabahar port in most important for India?

Why Chabahar port in most important for India?
Why Chabahar port in most important for India?

The geographical location of Chabahar is the main reason for India to invest in this corridor. In 2009, India initiated the construction of the proposed road network between Iran and Afghanistan, called the Chabahar-Zaranj-Delaram route, which would be used for commercial activities on Afghanistan’s Garland Highway. India has spent approximately $100 million to build a 218-kilometer (140-mile) long road connecting Zarang, located at the border of Iran and Afghanistan, to the Chabahar port. Upon completion of this project, it will become easier to reach the four major cities of Afghanistan: Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, and Mazar-e-Sharif, through this network.

India will also help in building a $1.6 billion rail line from Zahedan in Iran, which will ultimately connect to Mashhad in the north and link with Turkmenistan and the Bufk-Mashhad route in the south.

In addition to facilitating access to Central Asia, this corridor will also make it easier for India to reach the countries in Central Asia. With reduced transportation costs through this maritime-land route network, the travel time from India to Central Asia will also be reduced.

India is also considering the construction of a 900-kilometer rail line to connect the mineral-rich Hajigak region in Afghanistan to the Chabahar port. According to a study, the budget for this proposed rail project could be up to $5 billion for Iran and Afghanistan, and India can provide significant financial assistance to both countries. This rail network will enable India to reach other states in Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

So far, the lack of rail connectivity in these regions has been a major challenge for Indian companies. These regions possess mineral resources worth up to $1 trillion, and India’s Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has acquired the rights to these resources. With this connectivity, upcoming iron and steel projects worth $10.8 billion under SAIL can be completed.

Importance of Chabahar Port for India:

China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, is aggressively advancing its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project, which encircles India by road through Russia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Italy, Kenya, and Bangladesh. However, India lacks road connectivity to Afghanistan. In this context, the Chabahar port will connect India to Afghanistan through the road network, and in the future, India can extend its reach to other countries as well. This way, India’s dependence on Pakistan for road access to Afghanistan will also diminish.

Political Importance of Chabahar for India:

In India’s foreign policy from 2015-20, the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) has been considered significant, as it will strengthen India’s commercial and political relations with Central Asia. In this regard, the proposed commercial corridor will greatly assist India in establishing its links to Central Asia and Eurasia. The Chabahar port will prove to be a crucial step in this direction.

Once the project is completed, India will witness the development of various geopolitical and economic opportunities. Indian companies will be able to explore numerous commercial possibilities in Afghanistan and utilize its mineral resources. In the long run, Chabahar will play a vital role for India in trade related to oil and minerals with Central Asia.

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