Economy, Domestic Economy

Chabahar-Zahedan Track-Laying Underway

India’s state-owned IRCON has agreed to build a rail route at a cost of $1.6 billion as part of the transit corridor to Afghanistan through Chabahar.
India’s state-owned IRCON has agreed to build a rail route at a cost of $1.6 billion as part of the transit corridor to Afghanistan through Chabahar.

The track-laying project covering 100 kilometers of Chabahar-Zahedan Railroad will be completed by March 20.

This was announced by Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Kheirollah Khademi in a meeting with Indian Ambassador to Iran Saurabh Kumar on Tuesday.

Noting that $300 million have been invested from domestic resources in the project, the official said India’s financing is important in view of the limited domestic resources, IRNA reported on Wednesday.

India has weighed financing provisions of the project and will soon announce its final plan, Mehr News Agency quoted the Indian ambassador as saying.

Kumar hoped to see cooperation between Tehran and New Delhi improve following the three-day visit to India by Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi starting Wednesday.

Akhoundi is scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart, Nitin Gadkari, to discuss ways of improving marketing for the first phase of Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti Port in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

He will also visit Mundra Port, the largest private port of India located along the northern shores of the Gulf of Kutch in the state of Gujarat.

On the back of a rail link that stretches to Iran’s northwestern border, Chabahar will facilitate the transport of goods from India to the landlocked countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States as well as Afghanistan.

India sent its first consignment of wheat for Afghanistan through Chabahar Port in late October.

“The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment, as it will pave the way for operationalization of the Chabahar Port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan,” read a statement by India’s External Affairs Ministry.

Six more wheat shipments are scheduled to be sent via the same route in the near future.

Tehran, New Delhi and Kabul signed a trilateral agreement to develop Chabahar in Tehran in May 2016, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani paid a state visit to Iran.

The deal stipulates the development and operation of two terminals and three berths at the port with cargo handling capacities for 10 years.

Based on the agreement, Iran is to provide land in Chabahar Special Economic Zone to Indian companies for setting up petrochemical, fertilizer and other gas-based industries.

India has also agreed to build a 500-km railroad from Chabahar to Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, close to the Afghan border. India’s state-owned IRCON has agreed to build a rail route at a cost of $1.6 billion as part of the transit corridor to Afghanistan.

After connecting Chabahar to Zahedan, the railroad will be linked to Zaranj in Afghanistan. Hence, when the Afghan cargo arrives in Zahedan, it can be transported by a 1,380-km railroad to Chabahar and then shipped to India.

The first phase of the strategic Iranian port developed in cooperation with India was inaugurated by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Dec. 3.

A total of $1 billion are being invested in the first phase of the Chabahar development project, a joint international project billed as an “International Gateway” by Iranian officials who have invested $403 million (up until now) from the National Development Fund of Iran in the project and gained the approval of India to invest $85 million to complete the project.

Chabahar is Iran’s only oceanic port town and consists of two separate ports: Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti. The opening of the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port (out of five phases defined for the project), which has tripled its capacity to 8.5 million tons (equal to that of all the northern ports of the country), will allow the docking of super-large container ships (between 100,000 DWT and 120,000 DWT) and increase India’s connectivity with Afghanistan.

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