India funded Chabahar port in Iran has seen a 600 per cent increase in container traffic y-o-y in FY24, with the terminal handling 64,245 TEUs (twenty equivalent units), data from India’s Shipping Ministry, accessed by businessline, show. Last year, container cargo handled by the port was 9126 TEUs..

According to Ministry officials in the know, in the first two months of FY25 – April and May – container traffic at Chabahar stands at 9,973 TEUs, of 10 per cent higher than FY23 numbers.

“Operations at Chabahar are now commercially viable and we expect it to turn profitable soon,” a Shipping Ministry official said.

Over the last four years, container cargo handling at Chabahar has been mostly on the rise. From 225 TEUs in FY19, numbers increased to 5,782 TEUs in FY20, up further to 8,110 TEUs in FY21, but dropped down to 1,478 TEU in FY22.

Bulk cargo traffic was up by 2 per cent y-o-y in FY24 to 2.12 million tonnes (mt), as against 2.08 in FY23.

Located in south-eastern Sistan-Baluchestan province and perched on the Gulf of Oman, Chabahar Port – a deep-draft port and the only one in Iran to have direct access to the Indian Ocean – consists of Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti ports. India operates a terminal in Shahid Beheshti, through an SPV, India Ports Global Ltd (IPGL).

Investment in Chabahar

India will also be investing in Chabahar to ramp-up infra and enhance operations there. As per the contract agreement, Iran will procure equipment for the port. India will be assisting with funds for the procurement.

“We will be providing funds for procurement of equipment,” the official in the know said. Some further investment will also be done for development of infrastructure related with Chabahar Port.

Initial information suggest, around $120 million will be spent - up from the previously decided $85 million - on procurement of equipment in the next 3 years. India is also planning funds support of about $250 million for infrastructure development.

In May, the Embassy of India in Iran had, in a social media post, said, a credit window of $250 million equivalent has been offered for mutually identified projects aimed at improving “Chabahar-related infra”.

Earlier this year, a 10 year contract was finally signed between India and Iran over the operations at the terminal.

Distance between Chabahar and Gujarat’s Mundra and Kandla ports is around 1,000 km, almost half the distance between Ahmedabad and Mumbai; and less than the 1,400 km road distance between Mumbai and Delhi.

Chabahar will act as a connector to the INSTC (International North South Transport Corridor) – a 7200 km multi-modal network for freight movement through India, Afghanistan, Aaerbaijan, Iran, Russia, including Central Asian regions and also Europe.