India’s Shipping Ministry officially announced that the country has officially taken over the operations of strategic Chabahar port in the Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran's Southeastern coast, during the Trilateral Agreement meeting in the port on December 24.
"The Government of India took over the operations of a part of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar, in Iran during the Chabahar Trilateral Agreement meeting held there on December 24, 2018," the Shipping Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The heads of Indian, Iranian and Afghanistan delegation jointly inaugurated the office of the Indian SPV - India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) at Chabahar.
"The physical take-over of the terminal area, cargo handling equipment and Office building was completed by December 29, 2018," the statement said.
"This step marks the beginning of a long journey. India has written a history with its engagement in Chabahar and is now leading the regional cooperation and joint efforts to support land locked Afghanistan. This is the first time India will be operating a port outside its territories," the Indian government's statement said.
India started interacting with Iran on Chabahar Port around 2003 but a major push was received in the second half of 2014, resulting in the signing of an MoU between the two countries.
The statement added that the challenges facing the contract between Iran and India were resolved through a formal short term contract between the two sides which was signed on May 6, 2018 during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to New Delhi.
The Indian government's statement came today when the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif left Tehran for New Delhi for a three-day visit.
Earleir on December 24, Representatives from Iran, India, and Afghanistan signed a 9-article memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the Southeastern port city of Chabahar where they convened to hold the first follow-up committee on trilateral agreement of the city’s oceanic port.
Deputy Head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization Mohammad Ali Hassanzadeh recounted the news, adding that the next edition of the committee will be held in India.
The committee aimed at finalizing the protocol to harmonize transit, roads, customs and consular matters for making the route attractive and decrease logistic costs.
Reportedly, detailed discussions were held between the three sides on drawing the necessary provisions for the full operation of the agreement. Further details are yet to be revealed.
In a related front, Earlier on October 12, Senior Iranian and Indian trade officials held a meeting in New Delhi to review ways to bolster bilateral relations, specially development of Chabahar port.
During the meeting in the Indian capital, Iranian Road and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Rastad and senior officials from India’s Ministry of Shipping and Ports Association explored avenues for bolstering and reinvigorating mutual cooperation, in particular the development of Chabahar port.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed the development of Chabahar Port as well as the time and conditions of implementing the main contract.
The Indian company, IPGL, has been tasked with administering and running the terminal of the first phase of ‘Beheshti harbor’ at Chabahar port as a mere operator.
Supplying the equipment for development of the port by the Indian company was also on the meeting’s agenda.
During his two-day stay, Rastad visited Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT Port), a strategic Indian trade hub, and conferred with related officials on boosting ties between the JNPT Port and Chabahar Port.
Chabahar is the closest and best access point of Iran to the Indian Ocean. In May 2016, Iran and India signed a deal to equip and operate containers and multi-purpose terminals at Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar with the capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $ 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.