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Essar hopes to complete work on Myanmar’s Sittwe port by June

Chennai, Dec. 13:   Construction contractor Essar Projects Ltd expects to complete by June 2014 the ‘port-cum-inland waterway’ part of an India-sponsored project in Myanmar.

The project is of critical economic and strategic importance to India, as it opens a new transport corridor between the North-East states and the rest of the country (and world) through Myanmar.

In an e-mailed response to Business Line, an Essar Project spokesman said that the project was now “70 per cent completed.”
Essar’s job involved building the Sittwe port and a jetty at Paletwa and dredging the 158 km of the river Kaladan between the two points, so as to make it navigable. Essar is also to construct and deliver six cargo vessels.

The hull fabrication work is “50 per cent complete,” said Essar.

India agreed to build the Kaladan multi modal transport project for Myanmar back in 2008.

Essar was awarded a part of the project by the Ministry of External Affairs in 2010. Some delay was initially caused because Myanmar took time to hand over land at the Sittwe port.

However, what also held back speedy implementation was the discovery of a couple of old wrecked ships in the port area.

Nodal point

The port at Sittwe will become the nodal point for transportation of goods from and to the interiors of the Rakhine state and to the North Eastern States of India along the river Kaladan, says Essar.

The project is, therefore, of great economic and social implications, as it will pave way for the development of the North East, and reduce the sense of alienation that prevails among the people there.

For instance, agriculture suffers there because of the difficulties in reaching fertilisers.

Also, the project will help keep good neighbourly relations with Myanmar, a country with which India shares a 1,640-km border (compared with 1,800 km with Pakistan) and perhaps keep the Chinese at bay.

Road connectivity

However, mainstreaming the North East through the Kaladan multi modal transport project looks like will have to wait for a number of years more – the connecting roads are a long way from being in place.

From the jetty at Paletwa, the Mizoram border is 109.2 km and from there to the State’s capital Aizwal is another 250 km. Even the preliminary steps towards this are yet to be taken.

“It is learnt that the tender for the road connectivity will be floated shortly,” said Essar.

~ The Hindu Business Line
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