NEW DELHI: Following Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s statement that India was focused toward increasing connectivity in South East Asia, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways officials stated on Tuesday that the government is in talks with Asean countries to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand highway up to Vietnam.
According to Dakshita Das, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, India and ASEAN nations are currently holding discussions on the extension of the 1,360 km IMT expressway -- beginning from Moreh in India to Mae-Sot in Thailand. As per proposals from India, the highway could be extended to Vietnam via Laos and Cambodia.
“Initial discussions have already started. We have also announced certain line of credit for the purpose on certain projects,” said Das, adding that once the expressway is extended there would be “tremendous” potential for growth.
“Once we connect, we have a tremendous potential in terms of incremental GDP. Connectivity can generate an estimated $70 billion annually in incremental GDP and $20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025,” Das pointed out.
She was speaking at the Asean-India Connectivity Summit, organised here by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Das also stated that other proposals are also being worked on -- like the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA), for which India, Myanmar and Thailand commenced negotiations for finalising and implementing in 2014.
Framework MVAs need to be urgently concluded, Das said, to properly utilise the physical road infrastructure on the IMT Trilateral Highway and other projects.