Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project

In October 2015, the Union Cabinet has approved the Revised Cost Estimate (RCE) of Rs.2904 Crores for Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport  project. The completion of KMTT project will play a major role in economic development of the North-East India and it will improve the bilateral relations between India and Myanmar.

India’s Infrastructure Projects in Myanmar

India has committed several  infrastructure projects in Myanmar – for example Tamanthi and Shwezaye hydropower projects; Shwe oil and natural gas fields, which Indian companies are involved in operating; and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport (KMMT). KMTT is largest and most strategically important Indian investment in Myanmar.

Multimodal Transport

KMTT is essentially a multi-modal transport project having three different stretches involving shipping, Inland Water and road transport stretches. The longest among them is Shipping segment from Kolkata to Sittwe port in Myanmar. These stretches are shown in below table:

Funding

Government of India is funding this project and this is an important investment of India in its neighbourhood.

Construction

The project was approved by Union Cabinet in 2008 and initial investment was estimated to be Rs. 536 Crore. Construction for KMTT began in 2010. The construction had three general phases viz.

  • Dredging and modernizing the port at Sittwe in Myanmar
  • Dredging sections of the Kaladan River to allow for larger ships to pass
  • Linking Paletwa by road to the Indian state of Mizoram.

The third phase mentioned above would provide the isolated northeast a second point of entry in addition to the Siliguri Corridor.

How Cargo will move?

The cargo will start from Kolkata port and reach Sittwe port in Myanmar by ship. The Sittwe Port would be linked to Lashio (also in Maynmar) via the Kaladan river transport route. Lashio would be connected to Mizoram via road transport (National Highway 54).

When completed, the KMTT will shorten the current time taken to transport goods from Kolkata to Mizoram by three-four days, and the distance by around 950 km.  This is the reason that KMMT for Mizoram and India,  is called as “Future gateway to South East Asia”.

Advantages

Once completed, the KMMT would allow goods from eastern Indian ports such as Kolkata to reach India’s north-eastern states more cheaply. The KMMT would also enhance economic ties between coastal Indian urban hubs and the Myanmar economy, an attractive prospect for India as Myanmar’s 60 million people begin to consume more foreign goods. It will also serve as cornerstone of India’s “Look East Policy” aiming to expand India’s economic and political influence in Southeast Asia.

Issues

Challenged by nature, people and bureaucracy, the KMTT project is running at least two years behind schedule. One issue is of cost overruns and delays. Further, Myanmar is planning to construct hydro-electric projects on the tributaries of the Kaladan River, which might affect the project. Further, the project also faces a challenge from the so called “Kaladan Movement“, which is an alliance of civil society groups in Myanmar. This movement is demanding for wider transparency and accountability in the project. Though the project will also help Myanmar by providing much needed transport access to the Chin and Arakan states of Myanmar, the local issues such as forcible land acquisition, environmental concerns, cultural heritage and other such issues have tried to derail the project many times.

Current Status

In October 2015, the Indian Government has approved revised cost estimate of Rs. 2,904 crore for KMTT. The project is likely to be completed by end of 2016.

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