The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (hereafter “Kaladan Project”) will connect India’s eastern seaport of Kolkata with its landlocked northeastern state of Mizoram by traversing Arakan and Chin States in Burma through a newly constructed river and highway transport system.
The project was conceived by the Indian government as a means to develop a trade route between its mainland and Northeast Region, and as a key element of its “Look East Policy.” The Indian government expects the Kaladan Project to lead to increased economic linkages with Burma and the rest of Southeast Asia. The original plan conceptualized the Kaladan Project as a pre-cursor to establishing a gas pipeline along the same route.
The financing for the entire Project - currently estimated at US $214 million - is being provided through the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
In April 2008, Burma and India signed a foundational agreement titled the “Framework Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Union of Myanmar for the construction and operation of a multi-modal transit transport facility on Kaladan River connecting the Site-tway port in Myanmar with the state of Mizoram in India.”
Since the Framework Agreement work has progressed sporadically, and the Project is expected to be fully operational by 2015.
Approximately one million people live along the Kaladan river, the majority of who are dependent on the river for their livelihoods: as a fishing-ground, a means of transport, and a source of water for irrigation and household consumption.
The Kaladan Project construction can be conceptualized as four major Phases:
Phase One is the construction of jetties and a port facility at Site-tway in Arakan State to accommodate large cargo ships. The Inland Waterways Authority of India and ESSAR Projects Ltd. are the implementing partners, and the estimated completion date is June 2014.
Phase Two is the dredging and widening of stretches of the Kaladan river into a 160 km inland waterway transport system for cargo ships, including the construction of a port and transshipment terminal at Paletwa Town in Chin State. The Inland Waterways Authority of India and ESSAR Projects Ltd. are the implementing partners, and the estimated completion date is June 2014.
Phase Three is the construction of a 130 km two-lane highway from Paletwa Town to the Burma-India border crossing at MyeikWa/Lomasu. The exact route of the highway on the Burma side is not known as the revised Detailed Project Report has never been made public. The Burma Ministry of Construction and an as yet unnamed Burmese construction company - widely expected to be Max Myanmar Group of Companies based on the previous plan - will be the implementing partners for the road construction in Paletwa Township, and the estimated completion date is 2015.
Phase Four is the construction of a 100 km two-lane highway in Mizoram State from Lomasu to Lawngtlai, at which point it will connect with the existing Indian National Highway #54. Phase four also includes the construction of a Land Customs Station at Zorinpui in Mizoram State. The Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region, the Mizoram State Public Works Department and local contractors Ram Dayal Sharma and ARSS-Atlanta will be the implementing partners, and the estimated completion date is early 2014.