1 . First phase of the Chabahar port development project ready
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will inaugurate the first phase of the Chabahar port development project on Sunday.
- The inauguration of the port on Sunday will effectively pave the way for India to carry forward the next phase of construction and development of two berths for its use, particularly for trade with Afghanistan.
- Next, the government, which has committed $500 million to the port project, will develop a free-trade area around the port, and finally will complete the loop with a $1.6-billion railway line to Zahedan.
- India has already completed the Zaranj-Delaram highway in Afghanistan, which would facilitate the trade to Kabul and eventually beyond to Central Asia.
- At present, India is using the port’s existing commercial route to transport more than 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan, of which the first consignment of 15,000 tonnes from the Kandla port came to Zaranj, via Chabahar, on November 11.
- The port will enhance trade in the region, with a final aim to connect not just to Afghanistan via rail but also to the 7,200-km International North-South Transport Corridor to Russia.
REASONS WHY CHABAHAR PORT IS CRUCIAL FOR INDIA
1 . The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
2 . Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
3 . With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
4 . With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
5 . Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This is will, in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.
6 . From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.
7 . The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan – Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
2 . India loses billions to welfare costs air pollution: UN
- India had the highest share of welfare costs (or a loss of income from labour), of about $220 billion (about Rs. 1.4 trillion), in South and South-East Asia — of a combined total of $380 billion from mortality due to air pollution, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
- The global mortality costs from outdoor air pollution are projected to rise to about $25 trillion by 2060 in the absence of more stringent measures.
- At regional and national scale, China’s welfare costs from mortality were the highest at nearly $1 trillion followed by the Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) countries with a combined total of $730 billion, the report added quoting a 2016 projection by the OECD.
- To curb pollution in various forms, the UNEP called for strong high-level political commitment and engagement of the local government, civil society and other stakeholders.
- To achieve high level political commitment in key economic sectors, there is a need to go beyond the environmental ministries and include other relevant ministries such as finance, agriculture, industry, urban, transport, energy and health.
- There is also a need to engage the local government, civil society organisations, business leaders, industries, trade unions and citizens at large.
- The report, ‘Towards a pollution-free planet’, was launched during the first Conference of Parties for the Minamata Convention, which addresses mercury issues, and ahead of the annual U.N. Environment Assembly, to be held in early December.
3 . India supports creation of a Palestinian state that will co-exist ‘peacefully’ with Israel.
- India on Tuesday reiterated the need for an early resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
- In a statement on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented his government’s position and said that India will continue to support nation building activities by the Palestinians, and urged for the creation of a Palestinian state that will co-exist ‘peacefully’ with Israel.
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people
- The special day marks Resolution 181 of the United Nations which called for creation of independent Israeli and Palestinian states and was adopted on this day in 1947.
- The two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is based on this resolution.