New Delhi, November 5: Promoting transport cooperation and enhancing connectivity with Central Asian countries; India, Iran and Russia will hold a trilateral meeting to make the 7,200-km-long ship, road, and rail route operational soon. The meeting on the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is slated to take place on November 23.
The project comes in the backdrop of China’s multi-trillion-dollar One Belt One Road initiative. A multimode network of sea and rail routes, the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), will link the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf via Iran to Russia and North Europe. Within Iran, the two routes overlap in a potential boon to future businesses.
Given the utmost importance it attaches to the route, India has been actively courting Tehran and Iran also has been very receptive of it. Once the corridor becomes operational, it will allow India to export goods to Bandar Abbas in Iran by Sea from where they will be transported to Iran’s Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea by road. Next, they will be shipped to Astrakhan in Russia and transported into Europe by rail.
The route will cut the time and cost of delivering goods by about 30% to more than 40%. Compared with the Suez Canal, the corridor will reduce the transport time between Mumbai and Moscow to about 20 days. The estimated capacity of the corridor is 20 to 30 million tonnes of goods per year.
India’s Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu met a Russian business delegation in New Delhi, where he said "all issues may be resolved in order to operationalize the (INSTC) route as early as possible." To access resource-rich Central Asia, India has to route its goods either through China, Europe or Iran. The routes through China and Europe are long, expensive and time consuming, with Iran being the most viable one.
India is seeking to leverage the strategic Chabahar port in southeast Iran to link with the INSTC. India has committed $500 million to Chabahar that it is building chiefly to crack open a trade and transport route to landlocked Afghanistan.