Two crucial projects connecting Northeast with the neighbouring Southeast Asia ñ the Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project ñ are high on the agenda of the ensuing BIMSTEC Summit scheduled to be held in Nepal on August 30-31, said Secretary (East) Preeti Saran.
Briefing newsmen, Saran admitted that the progress has been slow so far but added quickly that work on 69 bridges had gained momentum and that it should be completed by 2019. Problems like land acquisition had held up the projects, but there is rapid progress now, she added.
Implemented by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the connectivity projects ñ the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, extension of Trilateral Highway to Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, and the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project ñ are presently at various stages of completion.
Interestingly, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in its recent report, appreciated the work undertaken by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for smooth road connectivity, particularly with Myanmar, but added that much needs to be done in this direction since physical infrastructure, including road, rail and air connectivity, is a serious problem in Northeast. The Committee also recommended early completion of the projects as roads are the real facilitator to transport, connectivity and trade.
The MEA told the Parliamentary Panel that steps are being taken to expedite the project work, which include close monitoring of work by the project management consultants, regular review through multiple monitoring mechanisms, facilitation of clearances approvals and security by Myanmar authorities and coordination for implementation by the MEA.
The MEA is closely coordinating with the DoNER Ministry and concerned State governments for expeditious implementation of the projects, which involves upgradation of 69 bridges, construction of approach roads on Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa section and construction of 120.7-km road on Kalewa-Yargi section of the Trilateral Highway.
The work on bridges and approach roads has been awarded on October 16, 2017 and the project is scheduled to be completed in three years, the report said.
Phase I of the Kaladan Multi Modal Transport and Transit Project have already been completed and is in commissioning stage. The projects to be undertaken under Phase II, including wreck removal from Sittwe Port Basin Area, tender finalisation for 13 awards of the work, are under process.