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Iran denies dropping India from Chabahar rail project due to delay in funding

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Summary

According to Iran, vested interests were behind recent reports that Iran excluded India from the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project.

On July 14, many media houses including The HinduScroll.in, WION and India Today published reports claiming that Iran has decided to move ahead with the construction of a railway line from Chabahar port to Zahedan without any assistance from India due to delay in funding. India has been dropped four years after the project was finalized as part of a broader trilateral agreement.

Reportedly, the development came as China finalized a 25-year strategic partnership deal with Iran worth $400 billion (approximately Rs 30 lakh crore).

Following this, many social media users started making the same claim. 

YouTuber Dhruv Rathee also put out a similar post on Facebook. 

However, after the reports, India dismissed reports that Iran has decided to exclude it from the construction project of a railway line linking the Chabahar port with Afghanistan, and said that Tehran is yet to nominate an authorized entity to finalize the outstanding technical and financial issues related to the venture. 

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava was quoted saying that there has been significant progress on the Chabahar port project since 2016. He said, “With regard to the port, you are all aware that a longstanding commitment from 2003 was finally operationalized in 2016 during the Prime Minister [Narendra Modi]’s visit to Iran,” he said at a press briefing. “Since then, despite the difficulties posed by the sanctions [by the United States] situation, there has been significant progress on the port project.”

Days after a report, Iran also denied the report blaming "vested interests were behind recent reports that Iran excluded India from Chabahar-Zahedan railway project" and reassured India's active participation in the mega project. Indian Embassy in Iran stated that Ambassador Gaddam Dharmendra was invited by Saeed Rasouli, Deputy Minister Roads and Head of Iran Railways, to review the ongoing co-op on Chabahar-Zahedan railway.

In 2016, India had signed an agreement with Iran to construct a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan. The Chabahar port is being jointly developed by India, Iran, and Afghanistan. The three countries consider the port, located on the Indian Ocean in the Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran, a gateway to opportunities for trade with central Asian nations. Easily accessible from India's western coast, the Chabahar port is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan's Gwadar Port, which is being developed with Chinese investment.

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