You are here: Home » Economy & Policy » News
Business Standard

India, Myanmar to sign deal on Kaladan port

Aasha Khosa  |  New Delhi 

In a significant development, and Myanmar will be signing a formal agreement on the Kaladan sea port project in just a few weeks, signalling a major coup for
Sources in the foreign ministry say that despite the political turmoil in Myanmar, India's pragmatic engagement with the government of the day has led to a break in the deadlock over the sea port project.
The Sitwee port situated on the Kaladan river in Myanmar will open India's landlocked north-eastern states "" Assam, Manipur, Meghalya, Mizoram, Tripura, Sikkim, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh "" to the international trading routes through the Bay of Bengal.
It will also offer an alternative route for following Bangladesh's refusal to give transit facilities.
The project involves a major upgrade of infrastructure at Sittwe, located about 250 km from the Mizoram border on the north-western coast of Myanmar where the Kaladan river joins the Bay of Bengal.
The proposed multi-modal transport project also involves building of roads and waterways in Mizoram and Myanmar that would connect Kaletwa ( Myanmar) with the National Highway 54 at Nalkawn in Mizoram.
"India and Myanmar are set to sign a formal agreement on the Kaladan sea port in a few weeks," a senior functionary of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said here today.
MEA sources claimed that while India was actively mediating between the Myanmar's military junta and the pro-democracy leader Aung san Suu Kyi for a reconciliation, New Delhi was "keeping its eyes focused on self-interests while dealing with Myanmar."
"We are driven by our own interest like supply of oil and natural gas and getting transit route to the south-east Asian countries through Myanmar while supporting and facilitating the reconciliation process in that country," officials said.
Sources revealed that the Indian ambassador in Yangoon Bhaskar Mitra had meet Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, last week. "We are hopeful of Aung San Suu Kyi joining the peace talks with the ruling dispensation very soon," sources said.
The Myanmar government had been dithering on the Sitwee port in spite of India pledging $103 million for it. Several rounds of talks between the two countries had ended with Yangoon finding faults with the proposed sea port.
Sources said the work on the waterways and roads was going apace but the work on the sea port was expected to start only by early next year, after the signing of the agreement.
It was in the middle of the pro-democracy protests in Myanmar that India had sealed the deal for exploring oil in three blocks in that country.
had paid the visit to sign the deal ignoring all criticism. The proposed India-Myanmar gas pipeline is also supposed to enter India via the same route.

First Published: Wed, October 10 2007. 00:00 IST