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Sittwe Port: India's Move Against China

By Dhruvaksh Saha
May 20, 2023 12:04 IST
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The project had been gaining strategic relevance over the years as India-China ties took a hit.

IMAGE: The maiden cargo of construction material arrives in Sittwe, Myanmar, May 9, 2023. Photograph: Kind courtesy Arindam Bagchi/Twitter

India's strategically important Sittwe port in Myanmar began operations on last week after Union Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal received the first vessel at the port, which was flagged off from Kolkata five days ago.

'This will promote trade connectivity and people-to-people ties between India and Myanmar and the wider region, and will help boost the economic development of North East states under the Act East policy of the government,' Sonowal said at the event.

'I am confident that the Sittwe port will act as the gateway of India to Southeast Asia, ushering growth and progress,' Sonowal said.

The project is part of the $484 million Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP), and has been built under grant assistance from India.

The primary aim of the project has been to create an alternative route for better connectivity with North East India.

The port connects to Paletwa in Myanmar through an inland waterway and from Paletwa to Zorinpui in Mizoram through a road component.

So far, the narrow Siliguri Chicken's Neck corridor is the only feasible route for transportation in the North East.


According to the Centre, this is a far more feasible route for the trade and commerce between the North East and the rest of India over the existing route.

Sonowal stated the new port would effect a drop of 50 per cent in costs and time of logistics over the Chicken's Neck corridor.

'While the length of road from Kolkata to Agartala is around 1,600 kms and takes four days, the Sittwe to Chittagong to Sarboom to Agartala will be done in two days, saving cost and time,' Sonowal was quoted by the ministry as saying.

Officials present at the event said the project, the agreement for which was signed way back in 2009, had been gaining strategic relevance over the years as India-China ties took a hit over the past few years, owing to several border skirmishes and China's expansionist approach.

Having infrastructural presence in the country was an important objective which will now be met, a source said.

India reportedly also confronted the Myanmar regime over the construction of a Chinese spy base in the remote Coco Islands situated in the Bay of Bengal, roughly 60 kms away from India's own military base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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Dhruvaksh Saha
Source: source