PM Modi’s two-day visit to Iran has resulted in an agreement stating that India will be investing billions of dollars in setting up various industries like aluminum smelter and urea plants in Iran’s Chabahar free trade zone. A pact has also been signed to operate a strategic port on the Iran’s southern coast, which would allow India to access Afghanistan, Russia and Europe without going through Pakistan.
“The distance between Kandla and the Chabahar port is less than the distance between New Delhi and Mumbai, and so what this agreement does is to enable us quick movement of goods first to Iran and then onwards to Afghanistan and Russia through a new rail and road link,” Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said.
“Over Rs 1 lakh crore investment can happen in Chabahar free trade zone,” he added.He further added that Iran has cheap natural gas and power which would allow Indian firms to build a 0.5-million tonne aluminium smelter plant and urea manufacturing units in the country.
“We spend Rs 45,000 crore annually on urea subsidy, and if we can manufacture it in the Chabahar free trade zone and move it through the port to Kandla and onward to hinterland, we can save that amount,” he explained.Railway PSU IRCON will also be building a rail line at Chabahar so that goods can be moved right up to Afghanistan.As of now, India can’t enter Afghanistan, and thus the rest of Central Asia via land because Pakistan sees India’s expansive diplomacy in the region as a threat to Pakistan.