EAM Jaishankar spotlights Modi govt's Act East policy, completing strategic connectivity projects via Myanmar

IANS Photo

New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) As he released the BJP manifesto for Lok Sabha Elections in Mizoram's Aizawl on Thursday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar spotlighted the special emphasis the Narendra Modi government has been laying on completing major pending connectivity projects in the strategically-located region.

Addressing party workers and media, S. Jaishankar mentioned how the government has been working hard to create access to Myanmar's Sittwe Port through a road from Mizoram.

"It has been having some problems right now. But certainly, as we look after the elections, it will be one of our priorities to see that the road is completed as soon as possible. We would also like to see more border haats with both Bangladesh and Myanmar," said the EAM.

Sittwe Port has been built under grant assistance from the Indian government as part of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP) which aims at creating a multi-modal sea, river, and road transport corridor for the shipment of cargo from the eastern ports and Northeast India to Myanmar.

Once completed, the road project is expected to give a massive boost to India's 'Act East Policy' and will be a significant milestone in regional connectivity.

"When it comes to the 'Act East' policy, one part of it is Myanmar. We were developing two avenues of access to Myanmar - one from Mizoram to Sittwe and the other from Manipur to the Trilateral Highway. Because of the current situation in Myanmar, (carrying) work has been very difficult. But what we are trying to do is negotiate with various groups to see what can be continued in some form. It is very important even for their own future that these programmes go forward," said Jaishankar who also mentioned that another way of taking the 'Act East' forward is through Bangladesh.

The multimodal transit transport facility on Kaladan River connects the Sittwe port to Paletwa in Myanmar - the only Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) country adjoining India - through an inland waterway and from Paletwa to Zorinpui in Mizoram through a road component.

Once fully operational, the KMTTP would not only encourage investment and trade but also open up alternate routes for connectivity to India's landlocked Northeast region.

More importantly, the ambitious infrastructure project opens a gateway to Southeast Asian countries for India and will play a major role in countering the growing influence of China in the neighbourhood region.

Beijing has also been prodding Naypyidaw to move faster to implement the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, deepening its access to the Bay of Bengal via Myanmar.

Myanmar, which shares a 1,643 km long land border with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, remains central to the trilateral Asian Highway project - an East-West corridor that also connects India's Northeast with Thailand.

In Aizawl on Thursday, Jaishankar stated that the Modi government has had a solid 10-year record of governance.

"I hope the people of Mizoram would send a representative to the Lok Sabha who would strengthen the hands of PM Modi who would allow us now to use the foundation of the last 10 years so that we prepare for the next 25 years. I would like to ask the Mizo brothers to support the BJP in the upcoming election. The vision document does for the state what PM Modi's vision is for the country," he said.