The Chabahar operation is now commercially viable: Sarbananda Sonowal

India’s operations at Iran’s Chabahar port have become ‘commercially viable’ in 2023; and the two countries are making “swift progress towards signing a long-term treaty,” said Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways.

Chabahar is India’s first overseas port project and the long-term agreement has a term of 10 years and is automatically renewed. It is intended to replace an original pact covering India’s operations at the Shahid Beheshti terminal in Chabahar port. The original contract is renewed annually.

Between 2018 and May 2023, bulk and breakbulk traffic in Chabahar was 6.56 million tons.

cargo handling

According to Sonowal, given the “significant” increase in cargo handling at the port, opportunities for future investment cannot be ruled out.

For 2023, India is aiming for cargo handling of 13,282 TEU at the Shahid Beheshti terminal. In comparison, cargo handling in 2022 was 3,096 TEU.

“The terminal at Chabahar is now commercially viable. And we are in talks with Iran to sign the long-term contract. It should be over very soon. The scope of future investment in Chabahar will be discussed later,” Sonowal said.

Increase in cargo handling

Data from MoPSW shows that Chabahar Port’s Shahid Beheshti terminal handled 3,503 TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) in May, up 25 percent month-on-month from April. Bulk throughput in May was 288,075 tonnes, up almost 150 percent from April (116,648 tonnes).

“May has been one of the best months in Chabahar’s history so far,” Sonowal said.

By May, 2,00,578 tons of bulk cargo were loaded at the terminal; Cargo unloaded was 5,87,884 tons, ministry officials said.

Cargo handling in the previous months of the year was 1,90,548 tons (3,459 TEU) in January; 1,06,448 tons (1,072 TEU) in February; and 2,22,958 tonnes (3,105 TEU) in March.

Long term contract

Iranian media recently quoted Ali Akbar Safaei, chief executive of the country’s Ports and Maritime Organization, as saying the two countries had resolved much of their problems related to the development of Chabahar Port.

The resolution reportedly came after a series of discussions held during a visit by an Indian delegation to Iran, expressing optimism for resolving the remaining issues at upcoming meetings to finalize a long-term deal.

“Under the Memorandum of Understanding between Iran, India and Afghanistan, Iran has so far been pledged an initial investment worth US$25 million, which will be used for port development,” he was quoted as saying.

When asked, Sonowal said: “The talks are progressing well. There are some details in the long-term contract that are currently being worked out.”

Related Articles

Back to top button