Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project involving India and Myanmar– critical to the connectivity between North East and Myanmar was saved by a joint operation carried out by forces of both countries.
Codenamed `Operation Sunrise’ was carried out last month which ended earlier this month when the insurgent camps were wiped out who were planning to hit the Indian workers at the Kaladan Transit project. The operation reportedly took place between mid February to early March. It was a joint operation carried out by both Indian and Myanmar armies have, in which at least 10 camps of an insurgent group in the neighbouring Myanmar.
According to sources, that the Indian Army while did not cross into the Myanmar side but there was a massive mobilisation along the border, on the Mizoram side.
The target of these operations carried out by the armies of both countries was the Arakan Army, an insurgent group trained by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and reportedly trained by China.
This outfit has been designated as a terrorist outfit by the government of Myanmar.
From the Indian side the support given was in terms of the surveillance equipment and additional troops on the Indian side.
According to reports more than 1,000 members of the Arakan Army had set up camps near the Kaladan Project since 2015, which was a threat to the project and Indian workers there. The Arakan Army is believed to have come from bases in Kachin area, North Myanmar, close to China.
Sources told Financial Express Online, “Keeping the terrain in mind there is still no clarity on how these many people came down south of Myanmar to set up camps.” The southside of Myanmar is located beside Lawngtala district of Mizoram.
A number of meetings between the two countries have taken place since the middle of 2018 to chalk out a coordinated operation, against the Arakan Army and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), a Naga insurgent outfit.
Though the Myanmar Army has a ceasefire agreement with the insurgent group, it still took over the group’s camps in Taga last month and the Myanmar Army started its operations the Arakan Army.
In 2017, the Indian Army had inflicted “heavy casualties” on the insurgent National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) group during “retaliatory” fire along the India-Myanmar border in the early hours of the morning.
In 2015, the Army had conducted a similar operation against banned insurgent groups following the killing of 20 soldiers in Manipur.
Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project
As part of ‘Look East policy’ under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, connectivity has a major priority between north eastern States and the ASEAN region. India is developing the Sittwe port in Myanmar and has also entered into a framework agreement with Myanmar in April 2008 to facilitate the implementation of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project.
Sittwe in Myanmar is expected to emerge as the next overseas strategic port for India. The Ministry of External Affairs is helping to develop Sittwe Port, located at the estuary of Kaladan river in the troubled Rakhine province of Myanmar, for improving connectivity with Mizoram in the North East.
An inland water transport jetty has already been constructed by India at Sittwe and a container terminal might also come up at Sittwe. This project is critical as Mizoram often faces shortage of supplies due to highway blockages (chicken’s neck) for days altogether.
More about Sittwe Port:
– From a strategic point Sittwe Port is around 500 km by road from the Kyaukphyu Port
– It is close to the Special Economic Zone set up by China in Myanmar
– Closer by sea route
– Sittwe Port plans were initiated in 2003
– In 2008 both the countries had signed a framework agreement for the Kaladan project
– A river, Kaladan, which originates from Mizoram and flows from North to South
– Part of the river has been made navigable to a draught of about 1.5 to 2 metres
– Cargo will be transported through barges up the river till Palletwa
– By road for the final leg to Mizoram border
– No goods will be transported to Mizoram through the ‘chicken’s neck’
– A river terminal at Palletwa is part of the larger project
What is on Myanmar side of the project?
– A 109-km road will connect Palletwa with Zorinpui, Mizoram at the India – Myanmar border
– A new road of 90-km will be laid to connect the existing Aizawl-Saiha National Highway up to Zorinpui
– Once completed this will be an alternate route to keep Mizoram and North eastern states with other states in India