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₹7,500-crore road network to boost North-East economy

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata February 24 | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on February 24, 2017

According to an official in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, four national highway upgradation projects will shortly be taken up for Cabinet approval   -  RITU RAJ KONWAR

Will improve connectivity with Myanmar, Bangladesh

The Centre is planning ₹7,500-crore-worth road-widening projects in Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram to improve connectivity with Bangladesh and Myanmar.

According to an official in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, four national highway upgradation projects — Aizawl-Tuipang (₹6,000 crore) in Mizoram; Tura-Dalu (₹360 crore) and Dalu-Dudani (₹1,100 crore) in Meghalaya; and Imphal-Moreh in Manipur — will shortly be taken up for Cabinet approval.

The 108-km Imphal-Moreh highway is currently the lifeline of the $56-million (FY15) India-Myanmar land trade through Moreh-Tamu border.

The trade volume should increase, as and when India completes the 1,360-km Trilateral Highway from Tamu to Thailand. Plans are underway to open a second route through Zokhawthar-Rih (Myanmar) border near Champhai on the eastern periphery of Mizoram, which will connect the Trilateral Highway 120 km away at Kalemyo.

Kaladan

The 300-km road from State capital Aizawl to Tuipang in Saiha district at the southern tip of Mizoram is a reaffirmation of India’s commitment to Kaladan multi-modal project in Myanmar.

A parallel project for extending the highway by 90 km to Zorinpui on Myanmar border is nearing completion. It will open up in Rakhine State, which was recently in news for the Rohingya issue.

From Zorinpui, a 1090km road is slated to connect Paletwa inland river terminal on Kaladan river in Myanmar. This is connected to Sittwe port at the Kaladan river mouth nearly 200 km south.

India has already constructed the port and handed it over to the Myanmarese authority.

The river terminal at Paletwa is also more or less complete. But the road from Paletwa to Zorinpui is still missing.

Widening of the 160-km Dalu-Dudani and the 52-km Tura-Dalu highways will increase connectivity between Western Meghalaya and the greater Mymensingh area in Northern Bangladesh.

Currently used by private miners in Meghalaya for export of small quantities of coal to Bangladesh, the importance of this gate will increase manifold once the Centre firms up the plan for building a 15-km rail-cum-road bridge between Dhubri and Phulbari over Brahmaputra.

Sources say the project is under active consideration.

Dhubri is a Lower Assam town located next to West Bengal on NH-31 that passes through the Chicken’s Neck or Siliguri Corridor. The Dalu-Dudani section will connect Phulbari in the South bank of Brahmaputra. The Centre had announced plans to build at least two new bridges on the Brahmaputra on Upper Assam (over and above the two under construction) to improve connectivity to Arunachal Pradesh that shares border with China.

The government has also decided to build a ₹130-crore bridge over Feni river at the Tripura-Bangladesh border. The project is currently in tendering stage. It will help North-Eastern States access Chittagong port, barely 80 km from South Tripura.

Asian highways

Meanwhile, the two Asian Highway projects in North Bengal are nearing completion. These will establish connectivity among Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan through Indian territory. “Both the projects will be completed next year,” the official said. The Centre has dropped the earlier plan to widen the road stretch passing through Gorumara National Park. “We will only strengthen the forested road.”

Published on February 24, 2017
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