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Chabahar Port UPSC NOTE

 Importance of the Chabahar Port project for India and Iran

  • Recently concluded contract between India and Iran gives New Delhi the rights to invest in and operate the Shahid-Behesti terminal at Chabahar Port for another 10 years

  • There is no denying that the Chabahar project is an important endeavour for both economic and strategic reasons. 

  • At the core of it, Chabahar, for India, represents its thinking from the perspective of an extended neighbourhood, and not necessarily as part of its West Asia outlook. 

  • The port is a fulcrum of the International North–South Transport Corridor, a project looking towards seamlessly linking India with Central Asia and Russia, bypassing Pakistan

  • Beyond this, Chabahar is also astutely tuned into the ‘new’ realities of Afghanistan. 

  • The Taliban-led interim government in Kabul has also thrown its weight behind the port, offering an investment of $35 million as it looks to secure alternatives and not be economically reliant on Pakistani ports such as Karachi or the China-backed Gwadar

  • In November 2023, Taliban leader Mullah Baradar visited Chabahar, with Shahid-Behesti visible in the background.

  • Bilaterally for India and Iran, Chabahar is also a symptom of challenges between the two states.

  • While there is a lot of public championing for the project, and for good reasons, if it was not for Chabahar, India-Iran ties today would look extremely dry. 

  • The reasons are multifaceted and tied to both country’s views of their national, regional, and geopolitical interests. 

  • Instead of expanding projects and economic cooperation beyond Chabahar, many older ones, such as the gas field Farzad-B which was discovered by Indian state-owned enterprise ONGC Videsh, have now been written off. 

  • Another old bilateral platform, the IranoHind shipping company, was dissolved in 2013 because of sanctions. 

  • Chabahar, is a legacy project, which has its foundations going back to 2003

  • This was an era when India was opening to developing economic assets abroad. 

  • Chabahar in Iran was one, Sakhalin-I in Russia, was another.

Haifa Port

  • India’s Adani Group, meanwhile, has also invested in a large port project in Israel

  • The company bought Israel’s Haifa port on the Mediterranean Sea for $1.2 billion. 

  • This was also made possible in part due to India’s participation in new diplomatic and economic endeavours with the United States, Israel, and Arab partners, such as the I2U2 and India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.

  • The fact that India’s buy-in into Haifa was not a constraint for the Chabahar deal to go through is not only a testament to Indian diplomacy but also for the U.S. to also recognise that this kind of access which New Delhi has is beneficial, and not detrimental, to Washington

  • The Port of Haifa is the largest of Israel's three major international seaports, the others being the Port of Ashdod, and the Port of Eilat

  • Its natural deep-water harbor operates all year long and serves both passenger and merchant ships

  • It is one of the largest ports in the eastern Mediterranean in terms of freight volume

Haifa Port

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