The highway road project will enhance cross border trade between India and Myanmar and will also provide an alternate outlet to the landlocked North East which is heavily dependent on the narrow ‘Chicken’s Neck’ at Siliguri
Construction of cross-border road between Mizoram in India and Myanmar began in April 2018. The road project is part of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project. India has already completed the rest of the Kaladan project work in Myanmar. This includes construction of the Sittwe Port on Lakadan river mouth in Rakhine, construction of a river terminal 158km upstream at Paletwa and dredging of the Kaladan river.
Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine State in south-western Myanmar. It is located at the mouth of the Kaladan river, which flows into Mizoram in north-eastern India. The new route through Sittwe would significantly lower the cost and distance of movement from Kolkata to Mizoram and beyond.
India has for years sought transit access through Bangladesh to ship goods to the landlocked north-eastern States. At present, the only route to this region from the rest of India is through a narrow strip of Indian territory nicknamed the Chicken’s Neck in West Bengal.
The preliminary feasibility studies were carried out by Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES). The 109km cross-border road connects Paletwa river terminal to Zorinpui on the Mizoram border in Myanmar. The road will help connect Mizoram with the Sittwe Port in Rakhine State of Myanmar, upon the completion of construction in December 2019. The road project will enhance cross border trade between India and Myanmar and will also increase trade in the region. Once the road project is completed, it will belong entirely to Myanmar.
The road project involves construction in dense forests and insurgency affected areas. It also passes through areas which have the presence of Myanmar rebel group called Arakan Army. Both the countries signed a MoU which agreed to facilitate the movement of project personnel, construction material and equipment to expedite work on the highway.
The estimated investment for the construction of the road is R1,600 crore. The road construction contract was awarded to Delhi-based C&C Constructions in June 2017. The road is designed to be a national highway double lanes standard. The Indian government has sanctioned R1,011.52 crore for the construction of the project.
The construction of 87.18kmlong road component in Mizoram side began in 2010 and is being worked by two companies – RDS Project Limited and Orisa based Atlanta ARSS (JV). About 81.12 per cent of physical work has been completed so far and 64.58 km of road has been black-topped, formation cutting of 85.41km, out of 87.18km-long road, has also been completed. Of the eight bridges, seven are under construction and 335 out of 428 culverts have also been already completed.
On the Indian side, work is on to extend the Aizawl-Saiha National Highway by 90 km to the international border at Zorinpui. Also, a R6,000-crore project is under way for four-laning the 300-km highway from Myanmar border to Aizawl to ensure the faster movement of goods between Sittwe and Mizo capital of Aizawl in the North West which is close to the Barak Valley of Assam.