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  • DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS:India observes Chabahar Day with emphasis on transport linkage with Central Asia

India observes Chabahar Day with emphasis on transport linkage with Central Asia

Tags: Economy/Finance Important Days International News

The Ministry of Port, Shipping and Waterways in association with India Ports Global observed ‘Chabahar Day’ in Mumbai to mark the Chabahar – Link to International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) – Connecting Central Asian Markets on 31 July 2022.

  • The Chabahar day celebration comes after the inaugural shipment of goods on the INSTC (International North-South Transport Corridor)) was flagged off from the Russian railway station of Chekov on 11 June 2022 to India. 
  • The consignment reached the Iranian Sarkhas railway station 3 July from where it will be transported to India through Bandar Abbas port of Iran.
  •  Union Minister for Port, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal in his address stated that India’s vision is to make Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar a transit hub and linking it to INSTC to reach out to Central Asian Countries.
  • The event was attended by the ambassadors of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and representatives of the Iranian and Afghanistan Government.

Chabahar port 

  • It is the only Iranian port which provides Iran access to the Indian Ocean. It consists of two ports Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti port.
  • It is only 170 km from Gwadar port of Pakistan which is being developed under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Project by China.
  • In 2016, India signed an agreement with Iran to develop Shahid Beheshti port as a transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • It is now being operated by an Indian Company, India Ports Global  from 2018 .

Strategic significance of Chabahar Port for India 

  • The current transit route for India to Afghanistan and Central Asia is through Pakistan. But Pakistan has always denied the route to India fearing that it will increase Indian influence in the region.
  • To bypass Pakistan, India is working on two projects. One is to use Iran by developing its Chabahar Port and the other is the INSTC corridor.
  • India has already sent a shipment of wheat to Afghanistan in 2017 through the Chabahar port.
  • During the Shanghai Cooperation Organization foreign minister’s meeting in Tashkent in July 2022, External Affairs minister proposed to use the port as a trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • However the Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhuto proposed to use Gwadar port instead for this purpose.

International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)

  • International North-South Transport Corridor is a corridor to increase trade between India and Russia. 
  • This trade route is 7200 Km long and the transport of freight is through a multi-mode network of roads, ships, and railways. 
  • This route connects India and Russia through Iran and Azerbaijan.

Member countries 

  • Russia, India, and Iran are the founding member states of INSTC. The agreement was signed in 2002.
  • There are 13 member states of the INSTC project – India, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Turkiye, Syria and Ukraine.
  • Bulgaria is an observer State. 

Why India supports INSTC

  • It will reduce transit cost and time. Europe-bound shipments that take 45-60 days to reach Europe, via the Suez Canal, can be delivered in 23 days using INSTC.
  • The corridor will reduce the transportation cost between India and Russia by about 30 per cent and bring down the transit time from 40 days by more than half.
  • India can use these routes to access Afghanistan and Central Asia and eliminating the need of Pakistani transit route.
  • The route, if successful, will also make the Gwadar port of Pakistan a failure. India is opposed to CPEC as it passes through Pak Occupied Kashmir. 
  • It views CPEC as a project by China to increase its influence in the region which will be detrimental to Indian interest. 

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