India, Myanmar ink MoU on appointment of private port operator

India and Myanmar signed a pact for the appointment of a private port operator for the operation and maintenance of Sittwe Port, Paletwa Inland Water Terminal and associated facilities that are part of the Kaladan Multi-Model Transit Transport Project, in an effort to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine State (which has been in the news for the plight of Rohingya Muslims) in south-western Myanmar. It is located at the mouth of the Kaladan river, which flows into Mizoram in north-eastern India.

India has for years sought transit access through Bangladesh to ship goods to the landlocked north-eastern States. At present, the only route to this region from the rest of India is a rather circuitous one through a narrow strip of Indian territory nicknamed the Chicken’s Neck in West Bengal, sandwiched between Bhutan and Bangladesh. The new route through Sittwe would significantly lower the cost and distance of movement from Kolkata to Mizoram and beyond.

About Kaladan project:

The Kaladan project connects Sittwe Port in Myanmar to the India-Myanmar border.

The project was jointly initiated by India and Myanmar to create a multi-modal platform for cargo shipments from the eastern ports to Myanmar and to the North-eastern parts of the country through Myanmar.

It is expected to open up sea routes and promote economic development in the North-eastern states, and also add value to the economic, commercial and strategic ties between India and Myanmar.

This project will reduce the distance from Kolkata to Sittwe by approximately 1328 km and will reduce the need to transport well through the narrow Siliguri corridor, also known as Chicken’s Neck.

Following this MoU, the process of identifying bidders to maintain these facilities will be initiated by floating an RFP. Subsequent to the commencement of operations at this port, it would offer new infrastructure for trade including between India and Myanmar, thereby contributing to job creation and development in the whole region, particularly in the Rakhine and Chin States of Myanmar.

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