India is mostly at a loss for not utilising its own resources – the geographical location of India is known to have given it the gift of diversity in terms of natural resources , landscape and also culture. North East India might be one of the least discovered regions. Now with the different efforts ranging from five-year plans to the Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project which is finally coming into the picture, thanks to Indo-Burmese relations, we can finally look east.
Transport via road becomes a mammoth task not only in terms of the topography but it starts at the very basic level that is the development of roads. The road development mostly in the early times was restricted to connecting the major capital cities and odd towns. The expense to create roads does not only fall on the difficult terrain but also because of the presence of military groups. We could also see the geopolitical tension building up as China started to develop infrastructure along the LAC. So, the need to build better transport in this region became of great importance.
The Kolkata – Mizoram transport project via Myanmar was initially started in the reign of Dr Manmohan Singh in 2010. There are a number of factors that need to be seen for such an outward approach. Firstly the chicken neck or what is also called as the Siliguri corridor is the narrow bridge that connects India to its eastern sector. It was formed in 1947 after the formation of Bangladesh. Since then, India has tried to find a viable route through Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal to reach those remote parts. The attempts include the Tatulia corridor proposed in 1980 and a free trade agreement between India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh proposed in 2002, both of which are still at the negotiating table. So finally India turned towards Myanmar for help.
Myanmar came to India’s rescue as it was building a highway to connect Paletwa in southern Chin state to Chikha sub-town in northern Chin state which would connect the Indian border at 3 places – southwest Mizoram and east Mizoram and to NH 502A.
There maybe a few problems associated with this project like the hydro power projects on the tributaries of the Kaladan river i.e the Chimtuipi river and Lungleng river that may effect the navigation. Still the news of route to be open soon brings in hope for northeastern states for easy and cheap trade facilities.