Power project, line of credit top Modi’s ‘to do’ list in Myanmar

Pratim Ranjan Bose Yangon | Updated on January 10, 2018 Published on September 04, 2017

Prime Minister’s visit to Nay Pyi Taw begins today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may announce fresh development projects, an electricity deal and line of credit to Myanmar during his three-day visit to the South-East Asian nation between September 5 and 7, according to sources.

This is Modi’s first bilateral visit to Myanmar. He had earlier visited Nay Pyi Taw in 2014 to attend the ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit.

India offered a $500-million credit line to Myanmar in 2012 for development of telecom, railways, road and agri-infrastructure.

Kaladan, Tri-lateral Highway

India also completed the $484 million Sittwe Port and Paletwa inland river terminal — under Kaladan multimodal Project — in Myanmar. Another $250-million was given to connect Paletwa to Mizoram border through road.

According to Vikram Misri, Indian Ambassador in Myanmar, Delhi is planning to add container handling facilities both at Sittwe and Paletwa.

Also, India plans to discuss “mechanism for operation and maintenance of the port” to ensure proper utilisation. The project, which was built to connect Mizoram bypassing the Siliguri corridor, doesn’t attract much cargo. India may now propose a road from Sittwe to Mandalay to connect the agri-commercial zone. An economic zone near Sittwe in Rakhine ia also under consideration.

“The port is not far from the paddy and pulses growing area and we propose a road from Sittwe to Mandalay,” Misri told BusinessLine.

Modi’s visit may also coincide with the award of contract for the residual work on Trilateral Highway that will connect Moreh in Manipur to Thailand cutting across Myanmar. India has already constructed part of the road and awarded contracts for road development on the Indian side.

“The tender received sufficient bids. The techno-commercial evaluation is on. The contract is expected to be awarded this month,” Misri said. The project is significant and is referred to as India’s answer to China’s OBOR. As the Indian border will also be connected by rail by 2020, unofficially discussions have started on laying a rail line parallel to the Trilateral Highway.

Apparently Japan is keen to build the rail project. However, some Indian observers feel that India should claim a stake in the rail project. The issue came up for discussion at a roundtable organised by Myanmar’s Parami Energy Group and Mizzima Media Group in Yangon on September 1 and 2.

Electricity deal

With nearly 70 per cent people without electricity; Myanmar is in urgent need to augment electricity generation andtransmission and distribution infrastructure.

According to Misri, India may also offer its expertise in renewable energy generation and cross-country electricity grid expansion.

Indian supplies currently help Bangladesh and Nepal to mitigate large part of the peak shortages. In comparison a mere 2 MW electricity is supplied to Myanmar from the adjoining Manipur. For supplies to increase, Myanmar will have to improve its transmission infrastructure.

The Adani group has proposed to supply power to Myanmar. Nay Pyi Taw also has similar offers from China, Thailand and Laos.

According to Sunil Seth, Chief Representative of Tata Sons in Myanmar, the group proposed setting up a 100-MW solar facility in the country. The Tatas is also exploring opportunity to take over a 1.2 million tonne unfinished steel facility at Myngyan, Near Mandalay.

The electric arc-furnace based facility will use imported scrap to make steel and needs protection from Chinese competition.

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Published on September 04, 2017
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