On Wednesday, the Modi government said it remained engaged with Iran on the modalities of executing the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project and also other developmental initiatives in the Gulf nation. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan, while replying to a question in Lok Sabha, also referred to an agreement signed between India and Iran on the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project during PM Modi’s visit to that country in the year 2016. For the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan Railway project, an MoU was signed between Indian Railways’ IRCON and Iranian Railways’ Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company (CDTIC) during the Prime Minister’s visit to Iran, he was quoted saying in a PTI report.
In the recently announced Union Budget for the financial year 2021-22, the Finance Ministry has made Rs 100 crore allocation for the development of the Chabahar Port. Situated in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the southern coast of energy-rich Iran, the Chabahar port is being established by India, Iran and Afghanistan in order to boost trade ties. As both sides reviewed their overall cooperation in developing the transit hub, India on Sunday, handed over two 140-tonne mobile harbour cranes to the authorities of the Chabahar Port in Iran.
The railway project is being said to be in consonance with New Delhi’s interest in creating an alternate trade route to Afghanistan as well as Central Asia bypassing a hostile Pakistan. IRCON, an arm of Indian Railways, had promised to provide all services, superstructure work as well as financing for the railway project under the MoU. Earlier it was reported that the entire assistance was to be worth $1.6 billion.
The Modi government’s deal with Iran was then cited as a strategic victory by New Delhi for India over China, which has been interested to have a major stake in the infrastructure sector of Iran, to further its economic as well as strategic interests.