Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project

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Route map of the transport project

The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project is a US$484 million[1] project connecting the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Rakhine State, Myanmar by sea. In Myanmar, it will then link Sittwe seaport to Paletwa in Chin State via the Kaladan river boat route, and then from Paletwa by road to Mizoram state in Northeast India. Originally, the project was scheduled to be completed by 2014,[2] but is expected to be operational only by 2019-2020 as all components of the project, including Sittwe port and power, river dredging, Paletwa jetty, have been completed, except the under construction Zorinpui-Paletwaa road,[3][4] construction of which commenced in April 2018 (December 2018 update).[1]

The route of the project around Paletwa and along the Kaladan river is troubled with Chin conflict, Rohingya conflict and militant groups such as Arakan Army and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).[5][6] Among these the ARSA, created by Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Toiba and has links with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen in Bangladesh and the Indian Mujahideen in India,[7] was behind the mass killing of Hindu Burmese Indians in the Kha Maung Seik massacre.[8][9]

Paletwa is less than 20 km from the Bangladesh border.

Route[edit]

Sea-river-road route[edit]

The project has several sections combining multi-modes of transport:[10]

  1. 539 km shipping route from seaport of Kolkata in India to Sittwe seaport in Myanmar via Bay of Bengal. This sea route has been operational for several decades. Port upgrade to handle 20,000 ton vassles, from previously capacity of 40,000 ton has been completed.
  2. 158 km river boat route from Sittwe seaport to Inland Water Terminal (IWT) and hydro power project at Paletwa jetty via Kaladan river in Myanmar. River dredging and jetty upgrade completed in June 2017.[11][12] There is at least one river lock for navigation.[13] Six barges of 300 ton capacity each were handed over to Mayanmar by the government of India.[14] Completed.[3] Sittwe Special Economic Zone at Ponnagyun town 60 kilometres (37 mi) north from Sittwe upstream of Kaladan River at Ponnagyun town is being built by India on 1000 acres.[15][11]
  3. 62 km two-lane in each direction (4 lanes total) road route from IWT Paletwa to Zochawchhuah(India)-Zorinpui(Myanmar) at Indo-Myanmar border in Myanmar. Construction contract of INR1600 crore (16 billion) was awarded to Ircon in June 2017,[11][16] and construction commenced in April 2018,[1] after all the necessary approvals were granted by the Myanmar govt in January 2018.[16] Integrated Customs & Immigration Checkpost at Zochawchhuah-Zorinpui has been operational since 2017. Tender for the road upgrade was awarded in 2017, currently under-construction and to be completed by December 2019,[3] though this ambitious deadline is harder to meet and might be missed.[16] India is also planning to construct a road to connect Paletwa with the Asian Highway AH1.[13]
  4. 100 km route from Indo-Myanmar border at Zochawchhuah-Zorinpui to Aizawl. From Aizawl it connect to Aizawal-Saiha National Highway at Lawngtlai in Mizoram in India by road on National Highway 54 (India) (NH-54), which then continues further to Dabaka in Assam via 850 km long NH-54 which in turn is part of the larger East-West Corridor connecting North East India with the rest of India.[17] Almost complete (June 2017).[11] Awarded, upgrade to this national highway is under-construction and to be Completed by 2019.[3] In June 2017, 90 km 2-lane route from Indo-Myanmar border at Zochawchhuah-Zorinpui to Tuipang is almost complete. From Tuipang, the national highway is being further upgraded from 2-lane to all-weather 4-lane from NH 54 Lawngtlai to Aizawl in Mizoram.[11] INR6000 crore (60 billion) was approved to further improve this Zochawchhuah-Zorinpui-Aizawal national highway.[16] Siaha-Zochawchhuah-Zorinpui missing section of the highway was under construction (April 2018).[16] Lomasu to Lawngtlai is a two lane highway in each difrection (total four lanes) and Lawngtlai to Aizawl-Guwahati national highway is being widened to 4 lanes in each direction (total 8 lanes).[18]

Complimentary railway route[edit]

This railway route will compliment the river-road route of this project in Myanmar-Mizoram:

  • Kyaukhtu-Zorinpui in Myanmar, 200 km - planned but not yet surveyed: India has future yet-unapproved plans to fund and construct this missing link.
  • Zochawchhuah(Zorinpui)-Sairang railway in India, 375 km - being surveyed since Aug-2017: Survey for the Rail line from Sairang (Aizawal) to Hmawngbuchhuah on border near Zochawchhuah-Zorinpui was completed in August 2017 and it will be constructed in future phase.[20]

Other projects - alternate route to northeast India[edit]

Compared to the 1,880 km long congested "Chicken’s Neck" Siliguri Corridor, this Kaladan project will almost half the distance to a mere 950 km. As an alternate route (unrelated to the Kaladan Multi-Model project) to northeast India, India is also developing railway route from Cox's Bazar deep water port to South Tripura district by rehabilitating the railway link from Santirbazar in India to Feni in Bangladesh, where a road and rail bridge is being built to connect the "Belonia, India - Parshuram, Bangladesh road and rail crossing checkposts", this will reduce traffic through Sittwe, but will provide strategically redundancy if there is a war with China.[21]

History[edit]

This project will reduce distance from Kolkata to Sittwee by approximately 1328 km and will reduce the need to transport good through the narrow Siliguri corridor, also known as Chicken's Neck.

Initially India had tried to persuade Bangladesh to offer transport and transit rights to the northeastern states. However, Bangladesh has consistently refused to grant such rights, including access to its Chittagong port, which is less than 200 km away from Agartala, the capital of Tripura.[22]

The project is being piloted and funded by the Ministry of External Affairs (India). The preliminary feasibility studies were carried out by Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES). Construction work on Sittwe port and the boat jetty in Paletwa, as well as the dredging work, will be executed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), with Essar Projects Ltd, a division of the Essar Group appointed in May 2010 as the main contractor.[23]

Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project initially faced problems such as underestimation of the road length in Myanmar and plans to construct hydro-electric projects — Chhimtuipui River and Lungleng River — on two tributaries of the Kaladan River followed by another project downstream. That the first two projects are being built by one public sector undertaking and the third is being constructed by another PSU (Public Sector Unit) has also led to coordination issues. Due to construction of this hydro electrical projects, Navigation of boats could be effected.[24]

The project includes a waterway component of 158 km on Kaladan river from Sittwe to Paletwa in Myanmar and a road component of 109 km from Paletwa to Zorinpui along the India-Myanmar border in Mizoram.

Development[edit]

On 19 April 2016 Indian minister General VK Singh informed that 66% of the new 2-lane-per-direction 12-meter-wide 99.83 km National Highway 502A (NH502A) starting from NH-54 at Lawngtlai to Zorinpui in Mizoram on Indian side is done and will be completed by June 2018. Other aspects of the project including the port, waterways and 109 km Zorinpui on the India-Myanmar border to Paletwa highway road in Myanmar will be completed by April 2019.[25] Mr Lalrinngheta, a Project Site Engineer on the India side, also reported the work is ongoing.[26]

In April 2017, the Sitwee port AND IWT Paletwa jetty were ready and operational.[27] In April 2017, India handed over the operation of completed Sittwe port and Inland Water Terminal at Paletwa to Myanmar. In June 2017, India handed six gas tanker cargo vessels worth US$81.29 million (K110.08 billion) to the Myanmar government to transport gas to north-east India via Manipur. Work on the port in Sittwe and the IWT in Paletwa, Chin State, is in its final stages, and the six cargo vessels are meant to facilitate transportation of goods from Sittwe to Paletwa. The $81.29 million cost of the vessels was met through a grant from India. The construction work was assigned to IWT in October 2012, the keels were laid in March 2013 and the vessels were launched between April and December 2016. On completion of the tests and trials at Yangon, the vessels reached Sittwe in March 2017. Acceptance trials were completed in April 2017 in Sittwe.[27]

In June 2017, 90 km 2-lane route from Indo-Myanmar border at Zorinpui to Tuipang is almost complete. From Tuipang the national highway is being further upgraded from 2-lane to all-weather 4-lane from NH 54 Lawngtlai to Aizawl in Mizoram.[11]

In June 2017, after several upward budget revisions and troubles in finding contractors, the INR1,600-crore (US$250 million) contract has been finally awarded to an Indian company C&C construction for building 109-km road connecting IWT Paletwa river terminal to Zorinpui in Mizoram border. The contractor would open offices at Sittwe, Paletwa and Yangon in Myanmar, mobilise men and machine during the monsoon and start construction after the monsoon in October.[11]

As of May 2018, India has awarded all the contract for 100 km 4-lane Aizawal-Zurinpui highway within India and 2 km Zorinpui-Kaletwa 2-lane highway within Myanmar, which will be completed by the 2019.[28][3] Though the contractor has been facing the delays and issues.[4]

Travel arrangements[edit]

Zorinpui border crossing[edit]

Integrated Customs & Immigration Checkpost at Zorinpui in Lawngtlai district, is already operational since 2017.[29]

Land border crossing and visa arrangements[edit]

In early 2018, visa agreement were signed for the citizens of two nations to travel by road for education, medical assistance, tourism and other purposes.[28][3] This agreement was operationalised on 9 August 2018.[1] Indians and Myanmarese citizens with valid passport and vis can pass through two official Land Border Crossings at Moreh in Manipur (Tamu in Sagaing Region of Myanmar) and Zokhawthar in Mizoram (Rikhawdar in Chin State of Myanmar.[1]

Motor Vehicle Agreement[edit]

In 2015, India proposed a trilateral Motor Vehicle Agreement to facilitate seamless movement of passenger and cargo vehicles among the three countries.[30] In May 2017, during a visit by Thai officials to Manipur, the state's Chief Secretary Oinam Nabakishore declared that the draft of the trilateral agreement had already been prepared.[31][32] As of May 2018, the signing of Motor vehicle agreement is still pending.[3]

Related projects[edit]

Myanmar is key part of India's "Look East" policy and Kaladan project has enabled several other associated projects with ongoing development of growing list of integrated linkages.

Bairabi-Sairang-Hmawngbuchhuah railway[edit]

Indian Railway has already converted to broad gauge the current 84 km railline from Katakhal (Assam) to Bairabi 2 km inside Mizoram. Its further 51.38 km Bairabi Sairang Railway extension from Bairabi to Sairang (20 km north of Aizawl) in Mizoram is under construction with target completion date of March 2019 as per status update in March 2016. In August 2015, India railway completed a survey for a possible new route extension from Sairang to Hmawngbuchhuah[33] on Mizoram's southern tip on the border of Myanmar, where at nearby Zochachhuah[34] village the National Highway 502 (India) (part of Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project) enters Myanmar, leaving a possibility open for yet-unplanned future rail connections to Paletwa.[35][36]

Sittwe Special Economic Zone[edit]

Sittwe Special Economic Zone (Sittwe SEZ) at Ponnagyun town was announced by India's Union Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh at the India-ASEAN Foreign Ministers meet at Laos in August 2016. The 1000 acre SEZ will be built 60 kilometres (37 mi) north from Sittwe upstream of Kaladan River at Ponnagyun town. China is building a rival Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone and port 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Sittwe. [15][11]

Sitwe-Gaya Gas Pipeline[edit]

There is also to a proposal to build 1,575 km long Sittwe-Aizawl-Silchar-Guwahati-Siliguri-Gaya gas pipeline to transport gas from Sittwe gas field where ONGC and GAIL hold 30 percent stake in oil and gas exploration.[37]

Thathay Chaung Hydropower Project[edit]

Thathay Chaung Hydropower Project(TCHP) is an 1800 megawatt, two dam project being built and financed by India on Chindwin River in Rakhine State of Myanmar, a 1,200 megawatt dam at Thamanthi (Manthi) and 600 megawatt dam at Shwejaye. The electricity produced will be supplied to Manipur state of India.[37]

India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway[edit]

The India–Myanmar–Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway (Friendship Highway) is a highway under construction that will connect Moreh, India with Mae Sot, Thailand via Myanmar.[38] The road is expected to boost trade and commerce in the ASEAN–India Free Trade Area, as well as with the rest of Southeast Asia. India has also proposed extending the highway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.[39] The proposed approx 3,200 km (2,000 mi) route from India to Vietnam is known as the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC).[40]

Agartala-Feni-Chittagong Highway[edit]

Indian has decided to build a INR130 crore (US$20 million) bridge over the Feni River at the Tripura-Bangladesh border to connect the existing NH8 Agartala-Sabroom on Indian side to Chittagong port in Bangladesh 80 km from South Tripura. In February 2017, the project was in tendering stage.[41]

India–Myanmar Zokhawthar-Rihkwadar-Kalemyo Highway[edit]

India–Myanmar Zokhawthar-Rihkwadar-Kalemyo Highway will provide second connection to the India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMT), between NH102B Zokhawthar Indian border village of Champhai district in east Mizoram to Rihkwadar border town in Myanmar, connecting it to IMT 120 km away at Kalemyo,[41] where it will connect to the IMT at Kalemyo.[1]

Paletwa-Cikha-India Highway Project[edit]

Paletwa-Cikha-India Highway Project is a INR 20 billion (US$315 million) 645 km long under construction Paletwa-Cikha road highway in Chin State of Myanmar, which will also be connected to the Indian border on two places, Paletwa to NH502 Zochachhuah border village[34] of Lawngtlai district in south-most Mizoram (main road route of Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport project) and at Khenman (Myanmar) to NH102B Behiang border village of Churachandpur district in southern-most Manipur. On 21 April 2016, Chin State Chief Minister Pu Lian Luai in Myanmar informed that the project is funded by Indian government, which will connect Paletwa in southern Chin state to Cikha (also misspelt as Chikha in Indian media) sub-town in northern Chin state. New roads will also be built to connect the Paletwa-Chikha highway to villages and towns in Chin state.[42]

4-laning of Aizawl-Tuipang National Highway[edit]

In June 2017, to ensure faster movement of goods between Sittwe and Mizoram capital of Aizawl in the North West which is close to the Barak Valley of Assam, India started a INR6,000-crore upgrade of current 2-lane 300 km Aizawl-Tuipang national highway to all-weather four-laning of international standard, the tender will be floated in September and construction contract will be awarded by December 2017 after the ongoing land acquisition is complete.[11] The upgrade of 52-km long road from Tuiping to Myanmar border, from 2-lane to all-weather 4-lane highway, is also included in this 352 km long National Highways Authority of India project.[43]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Road to Mandalay Indian Express, June 2018.
  2. ^ Purushothaman, Vakkom. "Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project to link sea route in Myanmar with Mizoram". The Northeast Times. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Still under construction, The Statesman, 13 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b India starts construction of ₹1,600-cr Mizoram-Myanmar Kaladan road , Business Line, 17 April 2018.
  5. ^ Buddhist refugees in Mizoram begin journey back to Myanmar, but unconfirmed tales of horror keep them on edge, First Post.
  6. ^ NE Displaced people, The Wire.
  7. ^ Mayanmar calling, The Telegraph.
  8. ^ Myanmar says bodies of 28 Hindu villagers found in Rakhine State
  9. ^ "Myanmar: New evidence reveals Rohingya armed group massacred scores in Rakhine State". www.amnesty.org.
  10. ^ Multi-modal project introduction
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i India awards road contract to complete Kaladan project in Myanmar, Business Line, 9 June 2017.
  12. ^ India ramps up Myanmar ties
  13. ^ a b India's connectivity to Myanmar.
  14. ^ Delay in Kaladan project, Business Standard, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "India planning to set up SEZ in Myanmar's Sittwe.", Economic Times, 2 August 2016.
  16. ^ a b c d e Mizoram to get connected with Sittwe port.
  17. ^ Multi-modal route map
  18. ^ India appoints post operator, Irrawaddy.
  19. ^ Myanmar in China’s Push into the Indian Ocean, Joshy M Paul, March 14, 2016, retrieved 20 January 2017
  20. ^ India's north east opened up, PowerUpConstruction.Com
  21. ^ As Smart as Sittwe: Going North-East by South-East, First Post, 2019.
  22. ^ Phukan, Papori. "Kaladan Multi-Modal Project In Myanmar". Manipur Online. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  23. ^ "Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project". Arakan Rivers. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  24. ^ Dikshit, Sandeep. "India-Myanmar transport project hits roadblock". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  25. ^ Kaladan project to be completed by April 2019, Published: April 2016
  26. ^ Title: India's long highway to Myanmar starts to take shape, The Guardian, Sept 2015.
  27. ^ a b vessels handed over to Myanmar by India, Mizzima, 2 June 2017.
  28. ^ a b India ramps up Myanmar ties to gain foothold in ASEAN, Myanmar Times, May 2018.
  29. ^ India opens two border crossing points with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Times of India, 1 Oct 2o17.
  30. ^ "Plea for Motor vehicle agrement between India and Myanmar". The Economic Times. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  31. ^ "Thailand Envoy Visits Manipur". Northeast Today. 28 May 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  32. ^ "Thai delegation visits Manipur". www.easternmirrornagaland.com. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  33. ^ Hmawngbuchhuah location map
  34. ^ a b Zochachhuah location map
  35. ^ Massive push to railway infrastructure under way in Northeast
  36. ^ Sanctioned in 2000, broad-gauge train reaches Mizoram after 16 years
  37. ^ a b Alexis Rieffel, 2010, "Myanmar/Burma: Inside Challenges, Outside Interests", Brookings Institution Press, pp139, ISBN 0815705069.
  38. ^ "All you want to know about Delhi to Bangkok Road Trip - Myths & Reality". Tripoto. 11 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  39. ^ http://www.telegraphindia.com/1160810/jsp/northeast/story_101585.jsp
  40. ^ "Myanmar Road Project Hooks 1.8 Billion Baht From Thailand". The Irrawaddy. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  41. ^ a b 7,500-crore road network to boost North-East economy, The Hindu, 24 February 2017.
  42. ^ Construction of Chikha to Paletwa Highway a priority, Mizzima, April 2016]
  43. ^ New Mizoram- Myanmar 352 Km national highway all set to boost trade and economy in the region, The North East Today, 21 August 2017.

External links[edit]