India, Myanmar sign pact on Rakhine port projects
26 Oct 18 - Myanmar Times - India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Myanmar on the appointment of a private operator to run and maintain Sittwe port, Paletwa inland water terminal, and associated facilities in the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, an Indian Embassy statement said.
The signing was witnessed by Indian Foreign Secretary Shri Vijay Gokhale, who paid an official visit to Myanmar on Monday, the statement said, adding that the deal was a significant step in the implementation of India's Act East Policy.
The statement said the MoU will enhance Myanmar's connectivity with India and add to development of the region, particularly Rakhine and Chin states.
''It would also add to local infrastructure capacity and help create more jobs for local people," it added.
India and Myanmar signed a framework agreement for the ambitious transport project in 2008.
It involves using sea, river and road transport to link Kolkata and other eastern India ports with Mizoram via Rakhine and Chin.
According to the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, in 2016, India awarded the contract for the final stage – the road to be built from Paletwa to Zorinpui on the border with Mizoram and the building of the Sittwe port and Paletwa inland water terminal. But the project has been delayed by the unrest in northern Rakhine.
U Than Soe Naing, a political analyst, said India may accelerate its projects in western Myanmar because Rakhine is a very important part of its strategy to link with ASEAN countries.
"Now is a good time for India to speed up the projects in Rakhine by providing assistance. I think India will do this," he said.
According to the State Counsellor's Office, India signed two agreements last month to give Rakhine US$25 million in grant assistance over five years. The first phase is a pilot project to build 250 prefabricated houses in northern Rakhine for displaced people.
Gokhale also met with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss bilateral concerns, including current developments in Rakhine, and with U Thant Sin Maung, minister of Transport and Communications, to discuss India's connectivity and transport infrastructure projects in Myanmar.
Gokhale also met with Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to discuss border security cooperation and the peace process.