Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran is refuelling hopes of the Indian energy sector. In PM Modi’s first visit to Tehran, among other business and economic policies, the gas pipeline that India is planning to draw through the Iran coastlines is likely to dominate the talks.
New Delhi had already sent its emissaries to ease the ground for the PM. Last month, Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan had visited Iran to discuss the gas pipeline that will run from the Iranian coast via the Oman Sea and the Indian Ocean. It will come till Gujarat. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj too had visited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in April.
The pipeline will give a big boost to Gujarat and Maharashtra in building power projects. The project will cost India around $4.5 million. India will get 31.5 million cubic natural gas daily.
The project that was initially shared by Pakistan, India and Iran but came to a standstill in 2007, when the international sanctions came in place, and India decided to toe the line with other global partners. Iran was the second biggest supplier of crude oil to India until 2011-12. Iran was highly disappointed with India’s decision, and the ties between the two nations were strained. Hopefully, Modi’s visiting Trehan will revive old ties with the nation.
The Peace pipeline that was to run via Pakistan initially met with a deadlock when Pakistan kept flip-floping on the matter. With increasing acts of terror in Pakistan, New Delhi had finally decided to ditch the project. A blast in Pakistani pipeline in 2005, might have made India change its mind.
India is home to the world’s second highest Shia population, next only to Iran. Iran’s influence over Indian Shiaite population is regarded as significant. According to a survey, around 70% Iranians would like to ally with India among all other nations in the world.
China is making inroads into Iran to rebuild the economy devastated by the international sanctions. And India is aware of this. Chinese president, Xi Jinping, visited Iran in January this year. China is Iran’s largest trading partner. After China, India is the biggest buyer of petroleum and gas from Iran.
The gas pipeline is not just an energy, gas or economic pipeline, but it tells the story of three nations, India, Iran and Pakistan that come closer or drift apart, according to their internal conflicts or external pressure.