[Answered] What is the strategic significance of Chabahar for India? Highlight the hurdles in the completion of the project.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some strategic significance of Chabahar for India. Also, write some hurdles in the completion of the project.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Chabahar is a seaport located in south-eastern Iran. It is located on the Makran coast of Sistan and Baluchistan Province, next to the Gulf of Oman and at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the Indian Ocean and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti. Using this gateway could enable India to save 20% logistical cost.

Strategic significance of Chabahar for India:

  • To project Indian infrastructure expertise in the Gulf.
  • To circumvent trade through Pakistan and build a long term, sustainable sea trade route.
  • To find an alternative land route to Afghanistan.
  • To provide Central Asia with an alternate route to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Iran for future trade.
  • To make the Shahid Beheshti port “a transit hub” and link it to the International North South Trade Corridor (INSTC), that also connects to Russia and Europe.
  • The Chabahar trade zone could be an important weigh station for India’s energy imports and food and material exports coming from Kandla and Mundra ports.
  • This port is just 170 km away from Gwadar port operated by China in Pakistan, hence this port would be of strategic importance to the Indian Navy and defense establishment.

Hurdles in the completion of the project:

  • Iran’s relationship with western countries: especially the United States. As when western sanctions against Iran increased, it has been difficult to source equipment for the port construction from infrastructure companies that continue to fear secondary sanctions, as well as to engage shipping and insurance companies for trade through Chabahar.
  • The stringent sanctions on Iran meant India’s energy imports from Iran, had to be dropped to zero. Bilateral trade, which depended on a rupee-rial exchange mechanism also stopped.
  • Geopolitical tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are rising with Tehran being accused of expanding its influence in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon through its proxies.

In a world where connectivity is seen as the new currency, India’s loss on account of these projects can become gain for some other country, especially China. Thus, India needs to play a balancing act between the USA and Iran and proactively protect its interest in the region.

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