New Delhi: Member countries planning a transportation corridor that promises to shorten freight distance between Russia, Iran and India will meet in Kazakhstan next month to resolve taxation and legislative obstacles.
Kazakhstan’s ambassador to India, Kairat Umarov, said the main focus of the meeting will be on arriving at a consensus on these two contentious issues. Umarov also said that Russia, which has taken the initiative in following up on the project, may also propose running a “probing train” on the rail route till Iran, to test the reliability of the network.
The North-South corridor project involves running freight trains from Russia up to Iran and then transporting cargo to India by sea. This will, experts say, do away with the need for Russian ships to take the longer Suez Canal route.
The route promises to reduce costs for shippers from Russia to India by around 30%, says infrastructure experts.
“We want to emerge as an important transit point on this route and we are already preparing our ports to handle more cargo,” Umarov said.
According to International Union of Railways chairman J.P. Batra, Russia and Kazakhstan will be ready to run trains in a few months as they are in the final stages of their negotiation. “Russia is really keen to get this project moving as it will save them a lot of money in transportation of goods,” he said.
Kazakhstan, with a consistent increase in GDP of around 9% and vast reserves of oil, has companies from all over the world, including India and China, vying for a piece of the action.
ONGC is in talks with the Kazakh authorities to bid for a few oil wells.