Iran inaugurates Chabahar port extension

Saul Bowman
December 4, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of the country's strategic Chahbahar Port, opening up a transit route between Iran, Afghanistan and India that bypasses Pakistan.

The president asserted that "Shahid Beheshti Port is economically important because it will facilitate transfer of deliveries and goods from the Indian Ocean to the neighboring countries like Afghanistan and Central Asian countries".

In the first phase, India will invest about $200 million (approx Rs. 1,346 crore) to develop cargo berths and terminals, while a 500-kilometre railway line will be constructed between Chabahar and Zahedan - the capital city of Iran's Baluchestan province - in the second phase.

India and Iran had signed a bilateral agreement previous year, in which New Delhi would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility at the port.

27 delegates from India, Afghanistan and other Asian countries attended the inaugural ceremony of the port.

Adding more values to the port, the Chabahar port - which is located in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province - has two docks, an global airport, and Iran's Navy and Air Force bases.

"We are happy that the first wheat shipment for Afghanistan has been sent to the country's people via the Iranian port", Rouhani said, according to IRNA news agency.

From 2.5 million tonnes, the annual cargo tonnage of Shahid Beheshti Port, Iran's only oceanic port, is now expected to nearly triple and reach 8.5 million tonnes. India has been working with Afghanistan to create alternative, reliable access routes, bypassing Pakistan.

It was inaugurated in the presence of dignitaries from India, Afghanistan, Qatar and Pakistan.

The three sides also commended the recent joint efforts that led to the transit of first tranche of 110,000 tons of wheat from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port. "It was also made a decision to convene an expert level meeting of senior officials of the three countries at the earliest", the statement said.

Further boosting up the bilateral ties between India and Iran, Swaraj, on her way back from Sochi in Russian Federation, made an unannounced visit to Tehran, ahead of the inauguration of the first phase of the key port - in which the Iranian government has invested about one billion dollar.

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