India’s port operations in Chabahar are expected to become profitable by the end of this fiscal year, according to Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. He stated that cargo handling at the port is increasingly important and its economic viability is evident through increased numbers compared to the same period last year. The operations have already exceeded the target set for 2023. Container cargo throughput at Shahid Beheshti Terminal reached 25,788 TEU and 1.5 million tons of bulk cargo were handled between April and September 2023. Sonowal plans to explore public-private partnerships for investment in the port.
The Shahid Beheshti Terminal in Chabahar is India’s first overseas port investment and currently has the capability to handle 8-tonne cargo ships. The port is expected to act as a strategic gateway between India and the Caspian Sea, Russia, and Northern Europe. Plans for expansion aim to increase the handling capacity to approximately 18 million tons. Talks for a long-term deal between India and Iran to operate the terminal are progressing well, and a 10-year agreement is yet to be signed. However, concerns remain due to Iran being under US sanctions, impacting the procurement of equipment by India Ports Global Ltd (IPGL).
The revenue generated from cargo handling at the Chabahar port will be shared by India and Iran based on an agreed formula. The operations at the port have shown promising growth and are expected to become profitable soon. Exploration of public-private partnerships for investment in the port’s expansion is planned, highlighting the increasing importance and economic viability of the port’s cargo handling. Talks for a long-term deal between India and Iran to operate the terminal are progressing well, but challenges remain due to the US sanctions imposed on Iran. Despite the challenges, the port serves as a strategic gateway and there are plans to increase its handling capacity in the future.