India to send first cargo to Russia through INSTC

Press TV- India says it is preparing to send a consignment to Russia through a much-awaited new intercontinental multi-modal corridor that connects its port city of Mumbai to Russia’s St Petersburg. 

The consignment would depart for Iran’s Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas in mid-January and would be thereon taken through the Iranian territory to Azerbaijan’s Baku through road and rail. It would be then taken to Russia by train.

India’s media reported that this would formally launch the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) that had been in the making for 17 years. Nevertheless, the INSTC would technically function fully in a few months thereafter, reported the Economic Times.

The report added that hectic preparations were already underway to firm up all elements of the corridor in all key stakeholder states and that a Russian railway operator was expected to play key role in the INSTC.

The ship, road and rail route connects India’s Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bander Abbas and further to Baku in Azerbaijan as well as Astrakhan, Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia before stretching to northern Europe and Scandinavia.

Currently, a cargo from India to Russia is carried on freight ships via the Red Sea, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, the English Channel and then the Baltic Sea.

The INSTC – which has an estimated cargo capacity of 20-30 million tonnes of goods per year – is expected to provide faster and more efficient trade connectivity between Europe and Southeast Asia.

Dry runs of the route were conducted in 2014, from Mumbai to Baku and Astrakhan via Bandar Abbas. Results showed transport costs will be 30 percent cheaper and transportation period will be 40 percent shorter than the existing routes.

The INSTC will be India’s second corridor after the Chabahar Port to access resource rich Central Asia and its market, the Economic Times wrote.

The launch of Chabahar Port – whose Phase 1 was inaugurated on Sunday – coupled with INSTC will be a game changer for India’s strategic and economic goals in the Eurasian region, added the report.

INSTC could get linked to the Chabahar Port besides Iran’s Bandar Abbas port, the daily quoted an unnamed official as saying.

India also hopes that INSTC would be connected with various other connectivity projects that the five Central Asian and other Eurasian countries have undertaken among themselves, the official said.