Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a joint task force on connectivity to work on the extension of the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral (IMT) highway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam on Thursday at the Asean summit in Laos, the PMO has asked the ministry of external affairs (MEA) to take charge of the completion and monitoring of the ambitious projects to link these countries through road.
The deadline to complete the construction of the trilateral highway, which was earlier under the ministry of road, transport and highways, has been extended to 2019-2020.
As reported by FE earlier this year, the completion of this highway is expected to expand trade and commerce opportunities, as increased connectivity is key to deeper integration with the Asean states. The highway is considered an important land route that connects India with Southeast Asia and beyond. The 3,200-km-long begins at the India-Myanmar border town of Moreh (in Manipur) and passes through several Myanmar towns, including Tamu, Kalewa, Yargyi, Monya, Mandalay, Meiktila and Myawaddy, finally reaches Mae Sot in Thailand. The four-lane highway is part of the proposed Asean East-West Corridor. According to officials, there is also a plan to link this road with the Trans Asian Highway-1 that runs from Japan (via ferry) to Turkey, where it connects the European highway.