January 9, 2018
After Chabahar Port in Iran, Sittwe in Myanmar may emerge as the next overseas strategic port for India.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is helping to develop Sittwe Port, located at the estuary of Kaladan river in the troubled Rakhine province of Myanmar, for improving connectivity with Mizoram in the North East.
Arun Kumar Gupta, managing director, Indian Ports Global Ltd (IPGL), said, “MEA is assisting in Myanmar’s Sittwe Port. Inland Water Transport Authority (IWAI) is their consultant and we are the implementing agency. An inland water transport jetty has already been constructed by India at Sittwe. Possibly, a container terminal might also come up at Sittwe. We have just got a detailed project report and the same is being reviewed.”
IPGL is a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust for overseas ventures.
The Sittwe project is crucial as Mizoram often faces shortage of supplies due to highway blockages (chicken’s neck) for days altogether, which also results in rationing of petrol and diesel at the fuel stations.
Strategically, Sittwe Port is around 500 km by road from the Kyaukphyu Port and Special Economic Zone set up by China in Myanmar and even closer by sea route.
Sittwe Port plans were initiated in 2003 and in 2008 both the countries had signed a framework agreement for the Kaladan project.
“There is a river, Kaladan, which originates from Mizoram and flows from North to South. A part of the river has been made navigable to a draught of about 1.5 to 2 metres. It is planned to transport cargo through barges up the river till Palletwa. The final leg to Mizoram border will be by road. This will avoid transporting goods to Mizoram through the ‘chicken’s neck’,” Gupta said.
A river terminal at Palletwa is part of the larger project.
On the Myanmar-end, a 109-km road will connect Palletwa with Zorinpui, Mizoram at the India – Myanmar border. Thereafter, a new road of 90-km will be laid to connect the existing Aizawl-Saiha National Highway up to Zorinpui.
On completion, this will be an alternate route to keep Mizoram and Northeastern states connected with other states in India.
Featured image courtesy: The Hindu