Besides the $500-million Chabahar agreement aimed at expanding bilateral cooperation, India and Iran will discuss the Middle East to India Deepwater Pipeline (MEIDP) when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi later this week.
Talks between the leaders is also expected to include regional connectivity, including the the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project linking India with Central Asia and some other countries.
Accompanied by a large business delegation and senior officials, in his first visit to India since taking charge as the Iranian President in August 2013, the agenda of Rouhani’s talks is expected to include regional and international developments as well as trade between the two sides.
Diplomatic sources confirmed to FE that, “The Middle East to India Deepwater Pipeline (MEIDP) will be topping the agenda of talks between the two leaders as this pipeline is vital to meet India’s energy security”.
As reported earlier by FE, India plans to use the North-South corridor for shipping goods to Central Asia through Nhava Sheva (Mumbai), Bandar Abbas (Iran), Tehran, Bandar Anzali (Iran) and Astrakhan (Russia).
The INSTC, a 7,200 km- long land and sea-based multi-modal transport was founded by India, Russia and Iran in a pursuit of a common goal: revival of the ancient transport routes and building missing links.
Partly operational at present, the INSTC connects the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea, thus providing for a shorter transit passage between Russia and India via Iran. The Foreign Trade Policy of India
(2015-20) highlights the importance of the transport corridor to expand India’s trade and investment links in Central Asia.
India, Iran and Afghanistan have signed a trilateral transit agreement to give Indian goods, heading toward Central Asia and Afghanistan, preferential treatment and tariff reductions at the Chabahar port city in southern Iran. New Delhi has committed $500 million to developing the port, with an aim to join an increasingly important transport corridor to resource-rich regional countries.
As reported by FE earlier, the port is expected to ramp up trade involving India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.
Plans for a deep-water pipeline supplying natural gas from Iran to India envision a pivotal role for Oman as a potential transit hub, source of gas supply, and even as an equity partner in the ambitious project.
A study titled ‘The Middle East to India Deep-water Gas Pipeline (MEIDP): A Favourable Situation For All’, by Assocham, has mooted expeditious implementation of the multibillion-dollar project to help secure New Delhi’s long-term energy needs.
A report issued by the group earlier this month, widely published in the Indian media, argues that the proposed pipeline project is not only technologically and economically feasible, but also has the potential to deliver gas to the Indian market at competitive rates.
It has urged authorities in New Delhi, as well as various stakeholders in the project, to move forward speedily with the decision-making, financing, technology procurement, and eventual execution of the landmark venture.
According to the report, the estimated 1,300-km pipeline is expected to start from Chabahar Port on Iran’s southern coast and terminate near Porbandar (Gujarat) on India’s west coast.