President Kovind to hand over Sittwe port in Rakhine to Myanmar
Nearly two decades after the launch of the Kaladan multi-modal link project, president Ram Nath Kovind will hand-over the India- developed Sittwe port in Rakhine to a state-designated operator in Myanmar in December, a move that opens India’s landlocked north-east to the Bay of Bengal through Mizoram as well as provide alternative connectivity to Kolkata without goods taking the circuitous route through the Siliguri corridor.
Senior South Block officials told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity that the Sittwe port will allow Indian goods to be taken through the Aizawl-Zorinpui-Palletwa axis to the navigable part of the Kaladan river. It is from Palletwa that the barges will be used to ferry Indian goods to the Sittwe port. The Indian plan to develop Sittwe port was conceived during the previous NDA regime with then Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh piloting the project. The port will be handed over to Myanmar by President Kovind, who is scheduled to travel to Myanmar in second week of December.
The port is part of India’s larger efforts to develop its North-East by simultaneously developing its neighbouring countries particularly Bangladesh and Myanmar. After the decision to link Agartala and Akhaura in Bangladesh by rail line this month, New Delhi and Dhaka are now working towards extending this link to Chittagong port so that Indian goods are exported to other destinations much faster and at a cheaper transportation costs. Another aspect of India’s support to development in Bangladesh will be the September 18 announcement of a 130-km kilometer high speed diesel pipeline from Numaligarh refinery unit in Silliguri to Parbatipur deport in Bangladesh.
Costing ?346 crore, the HSD pipeline will be constructed in 30 months and transport up to one million metric of diesel a year to Dhaka. Although India has been supplying HSD through rail rakes to Bangladesh since 2017, the pipeline will reduce transportation costs and make diesel cheaper in Bangladesh.