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Cabinet clears revised cost for Myanmar-northeast sea-road route

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New Delhi: The union cabinet on Wednesday approved the revised cost estimate for a multi-modal transit transport project passing through Myanmar that will provide an alternate access route to India’s northeastern states.

“The union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Wednesday gave its approval for the revised cost estimate of Rs 2,904.04 crore (about Rs 29 billion) for the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project in Myanmar,” an official statement said.

“The project will provide an alternate access route to the northeastern region of India and contribute towards the region’s economic development. Being a key connectivity project, it will promote economic, commercial and strategic links between India and Myanmar,” it added.

The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project was jointly identified by India and Myanmar to create a multi-modal mode of transport for shipment of cargo from the eastern ports of India to Myanmar as well as to the northeastern part of India through Myanmar.

This project, which will connect Sittwe port in Myanmar to the India-Myanmar border, apart from opening up the sea route for the products, will also provide a strategic link to the northeast, according to the statement.

The project, when completed, will first link the Kolkata port to the port of Sittwe in Myanmar across the Bay of Bengal, a distance of 539 km.

From Sittwe, the route will continue over river Kaladan to the western Myanmarese town of Paletwa, 158 km away.

Paletwa will then be connected to the India-Myanmar border by a 110-km-long road.

The international border will then be connected by road to the town of Lawngtlai in Mizoram 100 km away where National Highway 54 passes by.

The project includes construction of an integrated port and inland water transport (IWT) terminal at Sittwe, development of a navigational channel along river Kaladan in Myanmar from Sittwe to Paletwa, and construction of a highway transshipment terminal at Paletwa.

This apart, the project also envisages construction of six IWT barges – each of 300 tonnes capacity – for transportation of cargo between Sittwe and Paletwa.

In 2009, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) was appointed the project development consultant by the ministry of external affairs, the nodal agency for India. On the Myanmar side, the ministry of foreign affairs is the nodal agency.

Construction work at Sittwe in Myanmar started in December 2010 but problems arose over underestimation of the road length on the Myanmar side and plans to construct hydro-electric projects on tributaries of the Kaladan river.

Though the project was earlier scheduled to be completed in 2014, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said last year that it would now be completed by 2016.

When completed, the route will provide a viable alternative to the existing overstretched route via Siliguri in West Bengal, popularly known as the Chicken’s Neck.

(IANS)

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Drone and Satellites Expose Myanmar’s Pain

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Rohingya refugee
An Oct. 5, 2017 image taken from a video released by Arakan Rohingya National Organization shows villagers preparing to cross a river towards the Maungdaw township in the Rakhine state that borders Bangladesh.

London- The Rohingya refugee crisis is an age-old tale of displacement and suffering, but technology is providing new tools to tackle it, rights groups and charities said on Wednesday.

Powerful drone and satellite images are bringing to life the urgent needs of more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, while also providing strong evidence of abuses, which could be used to lobby for justice.

“We can describe for hours the large numbers of refugees crossing the border and how quickly existing camps have expanded, but one image captures it all,” said Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the military in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar launched a counter-insurgency operation after attacks on security posts by Rohingya militants in late August.

The UNHCR is using videos and photographs shot with drones to show the scale of the displacement crisis and bring it to life to spur action from the public and donors.

It is also using satellites to count and identify refugee families by their location in the Bangladesh camps to target assistance to those most in need, Mahecic told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

The use of drone footage of refugees entering Bangladesh has boosted donations for medical care, water and food, according to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an alliance of 13 leading British aid agencies.

Rights monitors also hope satellite images can provide evidence that to help bring perpetrators to justice.

Satellite photos were used in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to prove mass executions in 1995 in Srebrenica.

But the technology has yet to achieve its potential because of limited budgets and a lack of standardised methodologies accepted by courts, experts say.

Human Rights Watch has shared satellite images showing the burning of almost 300 villages in Myanmar, refugees’ mobile phone footage and their testimonies with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“We have found the debris field in satellite imagery where people were executed, corroborating multiple eyewitness statements,” said Josh Lyons, a satellite imagery analyst with the U.S.-based rights group.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has called the violence against Rohingya in Myanmar “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” and his office is working to determine whether it meets the legal definition of genocide.(VOA)

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Myanmar Must Take Back Displaced Rohingya Refugees : India

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state

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Rohingya
A group of Rohingya refugees walk on the muddy road after traveling over the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. VOA

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India on Sunday said Rohingya refugees who have poured into Bangladesh must be taken back by Myanmar from where they have been displaced.

“Normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a media meet also attended by her Bangladeshi counterpart Abula Hassan Mahmood Ali.

This followed the fourth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee meeting.

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Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state, bdnews24.com reported.

She said India was “deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine state of Myanmar”.

According to latest figures from the UN office in Bangladesh, over 600,000 refugees have entered the country since August 25 after the Myanmar Army cracked down on the Rohingyas after a series of attacks on security personnel in Rakhine.

Bangladesh Minister Ali said India was urged to contribute towards exerting sustained pressure on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, including return of Rohingyas to their homeland. (IANS)

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Myanmar to launch its own Satellite System MyanmarSat-2 in 2019

The project will cost about $155.7 billion.

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Nirbhay
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources said the Nirbhay missile test was "successful".(Representative image) VOA

Yangon, October 22, 2017 : Myanmar has planned to launch its own satellite system MyanmarSat-2 in June in 2019, official Global New Light of Myanmar reported on Saturday.

To establish state-owned satellite system, the three ways — Condosat which is to lease the use of satellite transponder of another country, joint ownership system and total ownership system — are needed to be done, Vice President U Myint Swe told a coordination meeting of the steering committee in Nay Pyi Taw.

The MyanmarSat-2 will be used on joint ownership system while the MyanmarSat-1 is currently used on lease system.

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The project will cost about $155.7 billion.

The Vice President urged the committee to put the Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) of the transponder as an unchangeable provision in the contract.

The vice president also called on the ministries which are currently working for MyanmarSat-1 using the foreign satellite to hire Myanmar Sat-2 after their contracts with foreign firms expire. (IANS)