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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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Rohingya influx is a threat to common security of the entire region

India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the third International Internet Gateway in Agartala to get the 10-gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited.

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The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.
Rohingya Refugees, wikimedia commons

The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.

“Rohingya influx from Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious and common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for the entire region,” Shringla told IANS during an interview.

“Bangladesh has engaged itself to address the issue. They have taken up the issue with the UN. The Bangladesh government is also working through multilateral agencies besides bilateral negotiations with Myanmar.

“Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement to repatriate the Rohingya Muslims. This is a humanitarian crisis even though the issue posed a common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for all the countries of the region.”

Over 1.15 million registered Rohingya have been residing in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, known as the Cox’s Bazar region, after they fled Rakhine to escape a military crackdown on their villages last August.

To a question about extremist activities in Bangladesh, the visiting Indian envoy said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pursued a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism.

“After the terror attack in Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in July 2016, law and order agencies have been active against terror activities. No major incident has taken place since. The issue cannot be resolved overnight. This is a continuous process,” Shringla said.

"Rohingya influx from Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious and common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for the entire region," Shringla told IANS during an interview.
Bangladesh Map, Pixabay

The High Commissioner came here on Thursday and held a series of meetings with Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Governor Tathagata Roy and other senior officials.

The visiting diplomat during his meeting with Deb discussed various issues like connectivity, people to people contact, hassle free movement of Indians to Bangladesh, trade and economic activities.

The Indian envoy said that Bangladesh has been promoting peace and security not only within its territory but ensuring regional and international peace and security.

Also Read: Sundarbans’ activists are against the upcoming NTPC power plant in the area 

About China’s rising cooperation with Bangladesh and investment in Dhaka, the diplomat said that India’s relations with Bangladesh were enduring and sustainable.

“India’s relationship and partnership with Bangladesh was based on cooperation, mutuality of benefit and respect for each other. People to people contact is very important,” Shringla said.

The High Commissioner said that 111 agreements have been signed between India and Bangladesh in the last ten years in different sectors. India has given $8 billion in three Lines of Credit to Bangladesh.

According to the envoy, total trade between the two countries in 2016-17 was $7.5 billion while $3.3 billion worth Indian investment proposals are registered with the Bangladesh government.

He said that India is currently supplying 660 MW of power to Bangladesh from West Bengal and Tripura.

India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the third International Internet Gateway in Agartala to get the 10-gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited.

For this, an optical fiber cable link has been established between Akhaura (along Agartala) and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

Regarding the 2019 Bangladesh parliamentary elections next year, the Indian envoy said it was the country’s internal matter.

The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.
Representational Image, Pixabay

“Bangladesh has a vibrant democracy like ours. The country is holding periodic elections. We look forward to a very free and fair process of election in Bangladesh.”

He said that India-Bangladesh relations were based on common history, language, culture besides a common border of over 4000 km.

“Today we are enjoying the best ever relations. During the past 10 years, relations have improved enormously. Cooperation, friendship and partnership are beneficial for both the countries.

“The countries have invested significantly to develop infrastructure along the borders to promote trade among the two neighbors. The border infrastructure is being further developed to enhance trade and economic activities between the two nations.

“Currently 36 land customs stations (LCS) are operational along the India-Bangladesh border. Further upgradations were being done along the Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura besides West Bengal borders,” he added.

Shringla said that to further improve the ongoing bus services between Dhaka, Kolkata, Agartala, Shillong and Guwahati, more steps would be taken to make the bus services more effective as it is inexpensive for people of both the countries.

Five Indian states – West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) share the 4,096-km border with Bangladesh. (IANS)