India-Iran-Afghanistan pact for transport
The agreement is aimed at further deepening India-Iran ties in diverse fields, covered areas of economy, trade, transportation, port development, culture, science and academic cooperation.
Connectivity, energy security, investment and bilateral trade were on top of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda during his visit to Iran. India signed several deals, including on sharing intelligence to combat terrorism and increasing cultural and technology contact.
The most noteworthy of the 12 agreements signed between Prime Minster and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is India’s investment of $500 million into developing Iran’s Chabahar port.
A trilateral agreement on transport and transit corridor was also signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran, which Prime Minister said could alter the course of the history of the region. It will significantly ease the passage of goods between the three countries and boost trade. Future plan include an international North-South Transport Corridor through Iran to Russia and Europe.
Chabahar port is located on the energy-rich Persian Gulf nation’s southern coast, outside the Persian Gulf, 700 km away from Zahedan, the capital of the Sistan and Baluchistan province. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.
State-run railway body IRCON International will set up a railway line at Chabahar to move goods right up to Afghanistan. The 500km rail link between Chabahar and Zahedan will link Delhi to the rest of Iran’s railway network. Also, part of the agreement is a free trade zone
`one where a total investment of lakh crore is envisaged. Indian companies would set up a range of industries from aluminium smelter to urea plants in the region. There will be signing of two contracts, one by Indian Ports Global with Arya Bandar Company of Iran for developing two terminals and five multi-cargo berth in Phase 1 of the Chabahar port project.
India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10 year lease. Operation of two berths will commence within a period of maximum 18 months after the signing of the contract.
India is also reported to finance another road network inside Afghanistan to enable Iran to access as far as Tajikistan through a shorter route. Chabahar is about 100 km from the Chinese-run Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is part of China’s USD 46 billion plan to develop China Pakistan Economic Corridor aimed at opening new trade and transport routes across Asia.
A trilateral agreement on transport and transit corridor was also signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran, which could alter the course of the history of the region