Aim is to enhance cross-border connectivity; aid stability in border region

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh scheduled to visit Myanmar at the end of this month, the Union Cabinet is likely to clear an MoU that provides for introduction of a bus service between the two countries.

Aiming at establishing regional connectivity between India and Myanmar — which share a 1,640-long land border — for development of road transport, trade, investment, tourism and transit of goods and people across the border, the service will connect Imphal in Manipur and Mandalay in Myanmar, according to official sources.

The objective is to ensure people-to-people interaction and enhance connectivity between the north-eastern States and Myanmar, besides paving the way for greater interactivity in the border region so as to contribute to security and stability along the border.

Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share a border with Myanmar, which has a large population of India-origin. India even shares a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal with Myanmar.

The bus service will originate from Imphal and Mandalay and operate on Mondays. Passengers will be transferred at the cross-border points to a vehicle of the other country, given the variance in traffic procedures and driving styles — Myanmar has left-hand-driven vehicles.

The changeover will be made at Moreh (India) and Tamu (Myanmar) and it has been left to the local authorities to decide on convenient stoppage points on each route in consultation with operators.

There will, however, be no relaxation in customs, immigration and other formalities at the border.

Each passenger will be allowed to carry one luggage weighing no more than 20 kg, and up to two handbags if the passenger has a baby. No commercial cargo will be allowed.

The two governments will review the arrangement three months after the service begins to take stock of the share of traffic and frequency of service.

The bus service is expected to open up the landlocked north-eastern region to the world and help its development.

Long-term plans include setting up development corridors connecting the two countries, which will also enhance security and stability in the north-east, government sources said.