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India Strategic - - APPOINTMENTS -

While the wa­ter­way com­po­nent of the project is al­most ready, with over 84 per cent of the work com­plete, work on the road (to be im­ple­mented jointly and si­mul­ta­ne­ously by Myan­mar and In­dia) has not started yet.

Gautam Mukhopad­haya, former In­dian Am­bas­sador to Myan­mar, told In­dia Strate­gic that both the wa­ter­way and the road link face sig­nif­i­cant hin­drances; ex­ces­sive dredg­ing of the wa­ter­ways around Sit­twe port has en­vi­ron­men­tal reper­cus­sions, while the road will run through the dis­turbed Rakhine state, where eth­nic dis­tur­bances have erupted. Also, the road has to be built on lit­er­ally shift­ing soil, as it is lo­cated along a rift val­ley. He also pointed out that the project had not been ad­e­quately thought through. While it is of im­mense strate­gic value to In­dia, it should also have been pro­jected as a path­way for en­hanced trade, which would have brought in greater in­vest­ment and given lo­cal peo­ple a greater sense of own­er­ship.

The Tri­lat­eral High­way Project (es­ti­mated to cost $150 mil­lion, al­though ac­tual costs would be de­ter­mined when fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies are com­plete) in­volves de­vel­op­ing a 1,360 km high­way jointly by In­dia, Myan­mar and Thai­land con­nect­ing Moreh in In­dia to Mae Sot in Thai­land through Myan­mar. In­dia is up­grad­ing a chal­leng­ing sec­tion - the Kalewa- Yargi Sec­tion of the high­way, around 123 km long, which passes through hilly and seismic prone ter­rain.

Sit­twe Port in Myan­mar is just 539 km by sea route from Kolkata (see map)

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