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India to develop Myanmar port

The $103 million Sittwe port is aimed at giving the northeastern states access to the sea for trade and commerce.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2007 13:33 IST

The Centre is contemplating a move to aid the development of Myanmar's Sittwe port at a cost of 103 million dollars to give the land-locked northeastern states access to the sea for trade and commerce.

This will be done after developing Kaladan river, which connects the northeastern state of Mizoram with the Bay of Bengal, as a waterway, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh has said.

"In principle, the government has taken a decision to develop the port. Cabinet approval is likely to be given soon," Ramesh told a seminar here earlier this week.

By developing the port in Myanmar and making the Kaladan river navigational, India wants to give the northeast access to the sea and international trade, he said.

Sittwe, formerly known as Akyab, is situated in Rakhine state, a long narrow coastal region in western Myanmar, and is separated from the mainland by the Rakhine Yoma mountain range.

It is the capital of the state and a seaport with a rich hinterland producing crops and fish.

The government's move assumes significance in view of Bangladesh's reported reluctance to give India access to Chittagong port and its refusal to let a gas pipeline connecting Myanmar with India to pass through its territory.

"We can also bring goods from Sittwe to any Indian port by using sea routes," Ramesh said. When the project is completed, Mizoram would become a hub of international trade, he said.