ZORINPUI (Aizawl): Keeping an eye on the strategic interests of the country, the Indian government has mobilised its strategic road infrastructure to Myanmar through Mizoram, aiming to boost India’s Act East Policy even while disturbance prevails along the Indo-Myanmar borders, with refugees trickling in.
Brigadier Digvijay Singh, 23 Sector Assam Rifles Commandant said, “The Kaladan Multi–Modal Transit Transport (KMMTTP) is progressing at a fast pace without any hindrance from the Arakan Army. It will have a huge impact on society both economic as well as on the development of South Mizoram.”
Colonel Bejoy R, Commandant of the Assam Rifles battalion at Lunglei told, “The road route will have 33 bridges, out of which 8 are on the Indian side and work on seven is in advanced stages.” The area linking India and Myanmar with a bridge falls under his Unit.
All these bridges will be of class 70 bridge. Class 70 means the bridge can bear a load of 70 tonnes. Military machines like T-90 tanks, surface-to-air missiles, and infantry combat vehicles can easily be transported.
The situation along the borders has been palpable with the refugees entering India since February 1 when the Myanmar military seized power.
The 23 Sector is entrusted with the responsibility of the Border management with Myanmar and in extending support to the civil administration apart from counter-insurgency operations.
This road is strategically important for it will be a gateway to South Asia and also will provide for military beef up in case of requirements.
Also, China has been strengthening its influence over Myanmar.
The Project approved in 2008 has seen major cost escalation, from 536 crores to 3200 crore, and timelines missed in 2015 and 2021. It is now expected to be completed by 2023.
The strategic project will link West Bengal’s Haldia port with the Sittwe port in the Rakhine State of Myanmar by sea.
It will also connect the Sittwe seaport with Paletwa in the Chin State via the Kaladan river route, and then from Paletwa by road to Mizoram’s Lawngtlai. It would also reduce the distance by about 1,000 km and time by 4 days.
It was conceived to obviate the potential threat from China as the northeastern part of the country is geographically is only connected by a narrow “Chicken-Neck” area called as the Siliguri Corridor. The corridor is around 200 km long and there is a stretch that is just 17km wide.
Sources attributed the Chinese for targeting Indian work in Myanmar. Myanmar-based terrorist group 'Arakan Army' has been attacking Indian investments aiming to delay Indian projects.
Sources on the ground said, “China never wanted that the Kaladan project be succeeded and the reason why it is supplying arms to insurgent groups present in Myanmar.”
The locals believe that this project will integrate northeastern states with the rest of India through better means of communication, ensuring the benefits of various Central government policies to the people of the region.
H Lalmuansanga, Lai Autonomous District Council member and advisor to chief executive member said, “This is one of the most backward districts of India. The KMTT project is a gateway to Southeast Asia and before the project completed, we need to uplift the local people. If you look at the economic, financial and educational condition of the local, it is very backward.”
“As part of India’s Act East Policy, this project is very beneficial for the state of Mizoram and its people. I want to bring the attention of the central government with regards to development of locals.
"We want the intake of locals into Indian Army should be increased. I request the central government to listen to our voices. I hope that the central government not only concentrate on the international strategic policy but also develop the local people,” Joseph Lalhmingthanga, Secretary Young Lai Association said.