- During the recent Foreign Ministerial Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), India emphasized a major role of Chabahar port in enhancing connectivity in the region.
- India will take over the presidency of SCO next year.
- It is highlighted that India provided humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan to help fight hunger and food insecurity.
- The problems of energy crisis and food crisis arising out of Ukraine conflict were raised.
- Highlighted the need to adopt a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism.
- Iran’s entry into the organization was also appreciated.
- Iran’s joining will strengthen the SCO Forum as now all member countries will have the opportunity to use the facilities of Chabahar Port in Iran.
- Chabahar port is located in the Gulf of Oman in southeast Iran.
- It is the only Iranian port that has direct access to the sea.
- It is located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the southern coast of the energy-rich Iran.
- Chabahar port is considered as a gateway to trade opportunities by India, Iran and Afghanistan with Central Asian countries.
- The Chabahar port provides an alternative supply route to all, thus reducing the importance of Pakistan with respect to trade.
- It will pave the way for India to bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan using the sea-land route.
- At present, Pakistan does not allow India traffic from its territory to Afghanistan.
- It will give impetus to the International North-South Transport Corridor, with both Russia being the initial signatory.
- Iran is the main gateway for this project.
- It will counter the Chinese presence in Arabia.
International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC):
- It is a multi-modal transport project established on 12 September 2000 in St. Petersburg by Iran, Russia and India with the aim of promoting transport cooperation among the member countries.
- Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Oman, Syria and Bulgaria are observers.
- It implements a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail and road transport for goods, aimed at reducing transportation costs between India and Russia by about 30% and reducing transit times by more than half of 40 days.
- This corridor connects the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea through the Islamic Republic of Iran and St. Petersburg and Northern Europe through the Russian Federation.
- This route mainly covers freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.
- The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities like Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Astrakhan etc.
- It will be provided as a viable and reasonable alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- In addition, it will enhance regional connectivity.