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India is to open a new four lane motorway to allow traders and tourists to drive from its eastern tea state of Assam into Burma, Thailand and eventually Cambodia and Vietnam.
The new “trilateral highway” is aimed at creating a new economic zone ranging from Calcutta on the Bay of Bengal to Ho Chi Minh City on the South China Sea.
According to analysts, the road is a key part of a plan to open the “Mekong-India Corridor” to link the world’s second fastest growing market – India – with the new Asian Tiger economies of Indo-China.
Scholars from Myanmar and India recently held a seminar in Nay Pyi Taw on the three-nation highway, discussing connectivity and trade facilitation, transforming connectivity corridor into economic corridor and easy access to border gate in Tamu in Myanmar and Moreh in India via Mandalay, upgrading Moreh-Imphur highway and construction of railroad through Imphur in 2017.
Upon completion of the highway network, closer trade and investment between India and Myanmar are expected.
The proposed highway from India’s Moreh to Thailand’s Maesot via Myanmar’s Tamu, Mandalay and Myawaddy was conceived at a trilateral ministerial meeting on transport linkages in Yangon in April 2002.
It represented a significant step in establishing connectivity between India and Southeast Asian countries. At the first meeting of the three-nation highway network, foreign ministers of India, Myanmar and Thailand agreed that the proposed highway should be built to promote economic and trade cooperation, personnel and cultural exchange between the three countries.
The first phase of the project was agreed during Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Burma in May when he and President Thein Sein set a 2016 deadline to complete a super highway linking Guwahati in Assam to Burma’s border with Thailand via Mandalay and the former capital Rangoon.
The two-lane highway linking the three nations will be completed by connecting many of the existing sections or widening the narrow sections to seven meters, while building new highway in some of the missing sections.The funds needed for the project is to be provided by the two governments of India and Thailand with loans sought from Asia Development Bank (ADB), World Bank and Japan Bank.
The field survey of the highway network started in early 2003.
A trilateral meeting in December 2002 had also agreed to add another transport link involving a shipping route from southern India to Myanmar’s Dawei deep seaport in southern Taninthayi region and a highway from Dawei to Kanchanaburi in Thailand. Meanwhile, in 2012, Myanmar and India agreed to upgrade the Kalewa-Yargyi road segment and Yargyi-Monywa stretch to highway standard by 2016 to help enhance the trilateral connectivity from India’s Moreh to Thailand’s Maesot via Myanmar.