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)