India to get operational control of Chabahar port in Iran for 18 months

Vastavam web: India and Iran today signed a significant pact which gives New Delhi operational control of a part of the strategically located Chabahar port on the Gulf of Oman for 18 months.The agreement was signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, focussing on ramping up regional connectivity and intensifying bilateral trade and investment.Officials in the Ministry of External Affairs said both the sides were for reaching a conclusion on the Farzad-B gas field issue soon.

Farzad-B was discovered by ONGC Videsh Ltd in the Farsi block about 10 years ago. The project has so far cost the OVL-led consortium, which also includes Oil India Ltd and Indian Oil Corp (IOC), over USD 80 million.New Delhi is keen that the gas from the field comes to India to feed the vast energy needs and, therefore, OVL in its USD 11 billion master development plan (MDP) proposed drilling wells in Persian Gulf to produce gas, transport it to onshore via sub-sea pipeline and build a plant to liquefy the gas (LNG) for transportation in ships.The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nation’s southern coast is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is being developed with Chinese investment and is located at distance of around 80 km from Chabahar.

The lease contract for Shahid Beheshti Port — Phase 1 of Chabahar — was signed between Port and Maritime Organization of Iran and India Ports Global Limited.With a view to fully utilise the potential of the Chabahar port and its connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia, India conveyed its readiness to support the development of Chabahar- Zahedan rail line, it said.

Indian Railway Construction International Ltd (IRCON) and Iran’s Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company (CDTIC), which are engaged in discussions, were tasked to finalise the technical parameters and financing options for the project in a time bound manner.Under the agreement signed between India and Iran in May 2016, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of USD 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.

In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan had inked a pact which entailed establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.The statement said both sides reiterated their commitment to International North- South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and stressed on the need for inclusion of Chabahar within its framework.The Convention on International Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) is a multilateral treaty that was concluded at Geneva on November 14, 1975, to simplify and harmonise the administrative formalities of international road transport.