News: Four years after India and Iran signed an agreement to construct a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan, the Iranian government has decided to proceed with the construction on its own, citing delays from the Indian side in funding and starting the project.
The railway project, which was being discussed between the Iranian Railways and the state-owned Indian Railways Construction Ltd (IRCON), was meant to be part of India’s commitment to the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan to build an alternate trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
About Chabahar Port:
Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar located in southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman.
It serves as Iran’s only oceanic port, and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti, each of which has five berths.
India and Iran first agreed to plans to further develop Shahid Beheshti port in 2003, but did not do so on account of sanctions against Iran.
As of 2016, the port has ten berths.
In May 2016, India and Iran signed a bilateral agreement in which India would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility at the port.
The port is partly intended to provide an alternative for trade between India and Afghanistan as it is 800 kilometers closer to the border of Afghanistan than Pakistan’s Karachi port.
India finalised a plan to construct a 900-km Chabahar-Zahedan-hajigak railway line that will connect Port of Chabahar in Iran, being built with Indian help, to the mineral-rich Hajigak region of Afghanistan.
In 2011, seven Indian companies acquired rights to mine central Afghanistan’s Hajigak region, which contain Asia’s largest deposit of iron ore.
About International North – South Transport Corridor:
The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road. The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali, etc.
Dry runs of two routes were conducted in 2014, the first was Mumbai to Baku via Bandar Abbas and the second was Mumbai to Astrakhan via Bandar Abbas, Tehran and Bandar Anzali. The objective of the study was to identify and address key bottlenecks.
The results showed transport costs were reduced by “$2,500 per 15 tons of cargo”.
Other routes under consideration include via Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
This will also synchronize with the Ashgabat agreement, a Multimodal transport agreement signed by India (2018), Oman (2011), Iran (2011), Turkmenistan (2011), Uzbekistan (2011) and Kazakhstan (2015) for creating an international transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
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Two navy aircraft carriers: INS Vikramaditya (Russian Origin) and INS Vikrant (Developed and Manufactured in India).