India is looking to formalise trade and cargo movements through Iran’s Chabahar port, and the Union Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, is visting the Sistan-Bolochistan province to review the progress of first phase of the project.

The project, jointly developed by the India, Iran and Afghanistan, aims to further trade ties between the countries and also land-locked central Asian region.

Chabahar is India’s first overseas port project. The loading and unloading capacity of the Shahid Beheshthi Port at Chabahar is currently at 8.5 million tonnes, which will be enhanced to 15 million tonnes, on completion of Phase I.

Due to pandemic, there were less number of visits from India to Iran and vice-versa. “This Ministerial visit will strengthen ties and maritime relationship between the two nations,” said a statement by the Ministry.

According to officials, the visit highlights the importance of Chabahar as a gateway for Indian trade with Europe, Russia and CIS countries.

Sonowal, during his four day visit, will also take part in bilateral meetings with the Ministers of Road & Urban Development and Health & Medical Education of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A Memorandum of Understanding concerning Mutual Recognition of Seafarer’s Certificates of Competency in Unlimited Voyages between India and Iran is likely to be signed too.

Other meetings

According to a Ministry statement, Sonowal “embarked on an official visit to Iran and UAE beginning August 18”.

During his visit, the Minister will visiting the Jebel Ali Port in the UAE. Round table meetings with Heads of Shipping and Freight Companies in UAE are also scheduled.

Meetings with Ambassadors of CIS countries based in Teheran are also expected.

Officials told BusinessLine that India and Uzbekistan have agreed to do a pilot container cargo ship movement (from Tashkent) using a hybrid route – land and sea both – with the cargo moving from Chabahar to JNPT (Mumbai).

Those tracking the development said, Chabahar Port has the strategic advantage. There have been some talks to include this in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). The INSTC is a regional connectivity project that aims at reducing transport time for goods from Russia, Europe and Central Asia.