India engages with Iran on Chabahar-Zahedan railway project

The Modi government on Monday asserted that it remains engaged with Iran on the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project as part of its connectivity initiatives in the region.

During the visit of the Prime Minister to Iran in May 2016, a MoU was signed between Indian Railways’ IRCON and Iranian Railways’ CDTIC (Construction & Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company) for construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan Railway Project, MoS External Affairs V Muraleedharan in Lok Sabha in reply to a query.

The two sides remain engaged on this matter. India and Iran continue to cooperate on developmental projects in Iran, including the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line, the Minister asserted.

In reply to another question the Minister stated that during PM’s May 2016 visit, a Trilateral Agreement to establish the International Transport and Transit Corridor was signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan. India is participating in the development of the first phase of the Shahid Behesti Port in Chabahar in cooperation with Iran, he informed.

The Indian company, India Ports Global Limited, has taken over port operations in December 2018 and has since handled 12 lakhs tons of bulk cargo and about 8200 containers, the Minister informed. In the recent past, there has been a rise in transit cargo for Afghanistan through Chabahar. India’s assistance of 75,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan, of which eight consignments have already been shipped, is being supplied via Chabahar, the Minister said, adding, the port has handled over 53,000 tons of India’s wheat bound for Afghanistan since the beginning of the current fiscal year. Afghan exports to India are also routed via Chabahar Port.

It may be recalled that the Chabahar Port project and Chabahar-Zahedan Railway Project was discussed when both Foreign and Defence Ministers visited Tehran earlier this month. India’s problem with Iran has been its insistence to give Chahbahar-Zahedan railway contract to Khatam al-Anbiya, a Revolutionary Guard entity, under US secondary sanctions.