New Delhi (NVI): As it develops the Chabahar Port in Iran, India is pitching for its inclusion in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project, which is a multi-modal trade route connecting India with Europe through a number of countries by sea, rail and road.
The objective of the 7,200-km-long INSTC network is to ensure movement of freight by ship, rail, and road route between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
According to the current proposal, the network will be connected via the Bandar Abbas port of Iran.
Chabahar port is being developed jointly by India, Iran and Afghanistan under a Tripartite Agreement signed in March 2016.
On the ‘Chabahar Day’, celebrated today by India, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said India has proposed the inclusion of Chabahar in the INSTC route.
“I am hopeful that during the INSTC Coordination Council meeting, member states would agree to the expansion of the INSTC route to include the Chabahar Port and also agree on expanding the membership of this project,” he said while addressing an event.
The INSTC is an important trade corridor project, wherein India is partnering with 12 countries to establish an economic corridor for the benefit of our peoples, Jaishankar said.
“We also welcome the interest of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to join the multilateral corridor project. Establishing an eastern corridor through Afghanistan would maximize its potential,” the External Affairs Minister said.
The INSTC, which will provide a shorter supply route between India and Europe and save freight costs, will particularly connect major cities of the participating countries like Mumbai, Bandar Abbas, Bandar Anzali, Astrakhan, Tehran, Moscow and Baku.
In 2014, dry runs were conducted on two routes — Mumbai and Baku via Bandar Abbas and Mumbai and Astrakhan via Bandar Abbas, Tehran and Bandar Anzali.
The dry runs were aimed at identifying the problem areas so that those could be addressed.
The study showed reduction in transport cost by $2500 per ton of cargo.
Jaishankar said the Chabahar port has not only emerged as a commercial transit hub for the region but also facilitated the delivery of humanitarian assistance, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The port is part of our shared commitment towards peace, stability and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan,” the External Affairs Minister said.
He said India utilized the Chabahar port to ship 75,000 MT of wheat as humanitarian food assistance to Afghanistan in September 2020.
India also assisted Iran to fight the worst ever locust invasion in the last 25 years by supplying 25 Metric tonnes of Malathion in June 2020, again through the Chabahar port. The second batch of 25 Metric tonnes has recently reached Chabahar Port, Jaishankar said.
“Besides the Indian exports of food products, the port has also handled several shipments and trans-shipments from Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Germany, Ukraine and the UAE,” he noted.