India

New Delhi Dodges Claims Iran Dropped India From the Chabahar Rail Project

New Delhi (Sputnik): Soon after Iran began track-laying on the 628 km Chabahar-Zahedan route, reports emerged that Tehran broke a four-year-old deal with India over the delay of funds. The project is part of India’s goal of boosting maritime transit traffic to Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

Contrary to the reports, India is still part of the Iran’s Chabahar Railway Line Project, India’s external Affairs Ministry claimed on Thursday.

The Indian news daily The Hindu had reported that Iran dropped India from the project after Iran decided to proceed with the construction on its own, citing delays from the Indian side in funding and starting the project.  

India has said that her ambassador was invited by the deputy minister and head of Iranian railways Saeed Rasouli to review cooperation on the project.

“They had a good meeting and ongoing cooperation was reviewed during this meeting and both Indian ambassador to Iran Gaddam Dharmendra and Rasouli stated that vested interests were behind recent reports that Iran excluded India from Chabahar-Zahedan railway,” Anurag Shrivastava, spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday in his weekly media briefing.

​India’s IRCON was appointed to assess the feasibility of the 628 km Chabahar-Zahedan route project with CDTIC, an Iranian company under the Ministry of Railways. The Indian government claimed that IRCON has completed the site inspection and a review of the feasibility report. In December 2019, the issues related to technical and financial crunch faced by Iran on this project were reviewed in detail at the 19th India-Iran Joint Commission Meeting in Tehran.

“The Iranian side was to nominate an authorized entity to finalize outstanding technical and financial issues. This is still awaited,” Shrivastava said.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said India faced “expulsion by Iran in Chabahar project due to its wrong policies”, adding that the Modi government is spoiling its relations with its neighbours due to a “Hindutva mindset”.

“The so-called impression of a ‘Shining India’ is over now owing to the incumbent government’s policies of hatred and bias,” he added.

Last week, Iran began track-laying on the 628 km Chabahar-Zahedan route “on its own”, according to media reports, resulting in the breaking of a four-year-old deal with India following delays to the funding of the project.

The 628km railway project is part of India’s commitment to the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan. The project aims to boost regional maritime transit traffic to Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

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