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Giving a fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s thrust to boost connectivity with neighbouring South Asian countries, India is set to launch a weekly cross-border bus service between Imphal in Manipur and Mandalay in central Myanmar.
The service is likely to start from October and would cover a distance of 579 kilometres between Imphal and Mandalay in about 14 hours. Though the fare is yet to be finalised, government officials said it would be kept below `2,000. Also to facilitate travellers, visa-on-arrival would be offered on both sides.
Presently there is no direct road link between India and Myanmar. From Delhi, one has to first fly to Bangkok and then to either Rangoon or Nay Pyi Taw to reach Myanmar.
“The project which was in a limbo for about two years got a impetus after the new government took over. Apart from strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries, it will also boost economic activity in the region” said a road ministry official.
Depending on the response, the weekly bus service would be scaled up and at a later stage will be extended to allow movement freight traffic as well.
“A team of senior officials from road transport and external affairs ministries visited Nay Pyi Taw early this month to finalize the agreement for the proposed bus service,” said an official.
Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh was also keen to sign the agreement for launching the bus service during his visit to Myanmar in 2012 but it did not fructify as the memorandum of understanding could not be finalised on time.
The Indian government is also assisting Myanmar to upgrade a 70 km stretch of road which becomes non motorable during the rainy season, according to an official.