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India to hold talks with Myanmar to speed up Kaladan project

Special Correspondent

It will provide a shorter route to north-eastern States

Jairam Ramesh is on a four-day visit to Myanmar

India to sign four pacts for economic cooperation

NEW DELHI: India will seek to accelerate the path-breaking Kaladan multi-modal transit project that will provide an alternative route to the north-eastern states and later to South-East Asian countries through Myanmar.

During the four-day Myanmar visit by Minister of State of Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh, which began on Sunday, India will seek to hold discussions to ensure that the project is completed by May 2012, a year ahead of schedule.

This project will provide a shorter route to many north-eastern states. At present, all traffic is routed through the narrow and congested chicken neck corridor via Assam and West Bengal.

Port facilities

Mr. Ramesh is expected to visit the Sittwe port in the Arakan region on the Bay of Bengal. The facilities at the port will be expanded to accommodate goods traffic under an agreement signed by the two governments in April this year.

From Sittwe, the Kaladan river will be made navigable for 225 km up to a place called Kaletwa. From there, a 62-km highway will take the traffic to the India-Myanmar border in Mizoram. A road from the border will then link the project to National Highway-54.

The sea distance between Kolkata and Sittwe is about 540 km. India is financing the entire project at a cost of Rs.546 crore

India will also sign four economic cooperation agreements, including a Bilateral Investment Promotion Agreement (BIPA) to facilitate greater investment by both countries. The second pact would be for a $64 million credit line agreement for financing three transmission lines in Myanmar.

The third agreement would be for a $20 million credit line for an aluminium conductor steel reinforced wire manufacturing facility. The United Bank of India and the Myanmar Economic Bank would sign the fourth agreement for providing a banking arrangement to implement the border trade agreement at Moreh in Manipur.

Mr. Ramesh would also be discussing the issue of opening more border trade centres at Avangkhu and Lungwa in Nagaland, Zowkhathar in Mizoram, Pangsau Pass in Arunachal Pradesh and Behiang, Skip and Tusom in Manipur.

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