New Delhi: Indian steel companies will export rails worth USD 150 million to Iran in July as part of a pact between the two countries for developing railway and other infrastructure at strategically important Chabahar port.
"The maiden consignment of rail from India worth USD 150 million would be sent to Iran in July," a top official said after Ambassador of Iran to India Gholamreza Ansari called on Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday.
The consignment of rails will be shipped by steel companies, the official said, adding that both Gadkari and Ansari deliberated on taking further the historic pact between the nations on the strategic Chabahar Port in southern Iran which will give India access to Afghanistan and Europe bypassing Pakistan.
Gadkari in May said that India would invest billions of dollars in setting up industries -- ranging from aluminium smelter to urea plants -- in Iran's Chabahar free trade zone.
Also, railway PSU IRCON will build a rail line at Chabahar to move goods right up to Afghanistan. The rail links are being built so that the land-locked Afghanistan can get access to the Iranian port as an alternative to the Pakistani port of Karachi.
The official said that a meeting is also "scheduled next month between Shipping Minister and his Iranian counterpart to develop a workplan for industrial needs and investments needed for Chabahar free trade zone". The focus will be setting up industries in the Chabahar free trade zone.
Besides the bilateral pact to develop the Chabahar port for which India will invest USD 500 million, a trilateral agreement on transport and transit corridor has also been signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran, which the Prime Minister said could "alter the course of the history of the region".Also, Gadkari has been stressing that the distance between Kandla and the Chabahar port is less than the distance between New Delhi and Mumbai and the pact would enable India quick movement of goods first to Iran and then onwards to Afghanistan and Russia through a new rail and road link. "Over Rs 1 lakh crore investment can happen in Chabahar free trade zone," he had said.