It was officially announced on Monday that India has taken over the operations of a part of the Chabahar Port in Iran, marking the country’s first takeover of an operating port outside its territory, in international waters.
“The Government of India took over the operations of a part of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar, in Iran during the Chabahar Trilateral Agreement meeting held there on December 24, 2018”, read the Indian Shipping Ministry in a statement made on Monday. The historic takeover will not only boost the ancient Indo-Iranian trade relations, but will also enliven the India-Afghanistan trade which was marred as the only land route from India to Afghan passed by Pakistan, which was usually a hurdle; and hence, access of Chabahar port will give a direct sea-route for the two nations to trade via Iran.
To complete the documentary formalities, the heads of all 3 nations India, Iran, and Afghanistan delegation jointly inaugurated the office of the India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) at Chabahar, and opened gates of opportunities for trade of these 3 nations with central Asian countries. The interaction for India’s takeover on the Iranian heartland port had started around 2003, but it finally received a go in the 2nd half of 2014. After that, India and Iran signed a MoU in May 2015, reflecting the 10-year contract for equipping and operating the port to be executed from May 23, 2016.
By December 29, 2018, the physical and official take-over of the terminal area, cargo handling equipment and Office building was completed. However, the commercial takeover started upon the arrival of a Cyprus registered bulk carrier had arrived at the portwith 72,458 MT of corn cargo on December 30, 2018. And finally in 2019, the operational part of the Iranian port was handed over to India, who will now be responsible to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with a capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10-year lease.