Among the many ongoing projects seeking improvement in connectivity of the North East (NE) to the rest of India, the operationalization of the deep-water port Sittwe in Rakhaine province of Myanmar, on which work is nearing its end, will serve as a vital step in that direction.
Part of the India-sponsored $448-mn Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP), the $120-mn Sittwe port aims to connect Kolkata to the NE via the Bay of Bengal.
As part of this freight circuit, goods will be carried from Kolkata’s Khidderpore dock to Switte port in Myanmar and thence to Mizoram in India’s North East. The journey from the port to Lawngtia in Mizoram will have two components: a 158-km stretch on Myanmar’s Kaladan river to the Paletwa multi-modal terminal and a 110-km trip by road from the terminal to the Mizoram border.
The route will further continue up to Dabaka in Assam via the 850-km-long NH54. Besides ensuring alternative access to the NE and reducing logistics costs, this route would grant the country a new passage to Bangladesh, China, Thailand, and Laos.
The opening of the trading line from the Kolkata port to the NE has also been opened through the Chittagong port in Bangladesh since July 2020, the upcoming Rs 955-crore terminal at Ashugunj in Bangladesh with 33% Indian line of credit, development of a fairway upstream of Narayanganj in Dhaka, the development of the Sirajganj-Chilmari (in Bangladesh)- Dhubri (in Guwahati) stretch and the newly added Indo-Bangladesh protocol routes increase the connectivity of the seven sisters from the
rest of India.
The Switte port must become operational at the earliest and the Indo-Bangladesh protocol routes become more vibrant through the operationalization of the Ashuganj terminal and the Narayanganj fairway, boosting connectivity to the NE, Sarbananda Sonowal, Union minister for ports, shipping, and waterways, has said.