India’s second wheat shipment for Afghanistan arrived on Wednesday at the Iranian port of Chabahar, New Delhi’s oceanic gateway to Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond.Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA has reported that 435 20-foot containers holding 10,000 tonnes of wheat were delivered by the ship Kashan from India, as the second part of India’s aid package to Afghanistan.Quoting an official from the Ports and Maritime Authority of Iran’s Sistan and Balochistan province — home to Chabahar port — the report said that the consignment was part of India’s pledge to deliver 75,000 tonnes of wheat as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.The first batch of 5,000 tonnes has already been delivered via Chabahar.The latest consignment of wheat containers will be sent across the Milak-Zaranj border crossing between Iran and Afghanistan. From there, it will travel to Herat and further via a ring road to Kandahar, Baghlan, Kabul and Balkh provinces.Chabahar is of high strategic importance at it is Iran’s only port in the Indian Ocean, which bypasses the narrow choke point of Strait of Hormuz connected to the Persian Gulf. Chabahar run by India Ports Global Limited is only 70 kilometres west from Gwadar port, the starting point of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) operates Gwadar port.Iranian officials say that cargo handling in Chabahar is expanding significantly. Iran’s Tasnim news agency, quoting an official, says that seven cargo ships carrying basic commodities have docked at the Chabahar port since March 20.Iranian state media further reported on Monday that the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) had ordered construction of a 50,000-ton wharf at Chabahar, which has an oil storage facility. The NIOPDC earlier announced its intent to construct a new oil terminal at Chabahar.Once the wharf is ready, it will allow vessels to dock near the Shahid Shoushtari oil storage facility at the port.In 2009, India had constructed a road from Chabahar to Afghanistan, to link Herat and Kandahar, as well as with Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province in the north — the gateway to Uzbekistan. India also intends to build a 900-km railway track from Chabahar port to resource-rich Bamiyan province. An Indian consortium has won the contract to mine the Hajigak iron ore deposits in Bamiyan province, 130 km west of Kabul.
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