Mizoram, the ‘island of peace’ in the Northeast, fears security problems after the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport becomes operational.
New Delhi and Yangon had in April 2008 inked an agreement for the $ 120 million Kaladan project to be funded by India. The project envisages developing a trade route between India and Myanmar along river Kaladan.
The river flows down from Mizoram and joins the Bay of Bengal at Sittwe in Myanmar, where India is helping build a port. It, however, is navigable up to Setpyitpyin in Myanmar (close to border with Mizoram) from where goods are to be transported by road to and from Northeast India.
“Along with movement of essential goods and service we expect undesirable elements getting into and going out of the region. It is time that we evolve an effective strategy to deal with this possible development. For, prevention is always better than cure,” said Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla at the chief ministers’ conference in New Delhi.
He added that the existing policy of providing central assistance to states to meet expenditure on internal security selectively should be modified. “Mizoram, where peace has not only been brought back after long years of disturbance but is also maintained, should not be discriminated merely because peace prevails,” he said.
In this connection, New Delhi should give incentive for maintenance of peace by way of providing Central assistance to meet expenditure on maintenance of internal security, Thanhawla said. “We brought back peace at a very heavy price and we must also pay a price for sustaining it.”
The Mizoram chief minister also underscored the need to associate traditional local institutions, particularly in tribal areas, in maintaining internal security. “For instance, village councils in Mizoram or village developmental boards in Nagaland could play a positive role in maintaining peace and order in their respective locality and also prevent activities of outside elements which can disturb peace,” he said.
He urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to consult the states so that a scheme at the national level in this regard can be formulated.