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04/07/2012: "‘Special federal relationship’ final solution to the Naga imbroglio! Sujit Chakraborty"
‘Special federal relationship’ final solution to the Naga imbroglio! Sujit Chakraborty
New Delhi/Dimapur: The contours of a “special federal relationship”, that have clearly emerged from 13 years of often tortuous negotiations between the Indian government and the NSCN, seek to give Nagaland much more than what is possible under the existing provisions of the Constitution.
The NSCN has given up its demand for a separate flag and a separate currency for Nagaland — but the Centre has agreed to allow it to raise its own armed force that will be exclusively responsible for internal security of Nagaland. Both sides have agreed to “jointly deploy for external defence” the armed forces of India and those of Nagaland in the event of Nagaland facing an external threat.
The Centre has also agreed to the NSCN’s proposal for creating a forum to ensure smooth coordination on all outstanding security issues, but with a big rider that the Indian forces can set up cantonments and camps anywhere in Nagaland. However, no deployment of these forces will be allowed for internal security without a request from the Nagaland government.
The Centre has also agreed to give greater powers to Nagaland on exploitation of its natural resources by agreeing on principle that “all natural resources in, below and above the soil of Nagaland” belong to the Naga people. The Union government has said consultation with the Nagaland government is a must before any exploration or exploitation of discovered resources is undertaken. This is important because Nagaland can negotiate favourable royalty deals for its considerable known mineral and hydrocarbon deposits.
But the NSCN leadership has committed itself to follow the monetary policy of the Government of India and dropped the demand for a separate currency for Nagaland. Both sides have agreed that the Nagaland government will have the authority to receive aid from multilateral and national development finance institutions but “subject to the concurrence of the Government of India”.
The Centre has also agreed not to levy duties on goods in transit destined for Nagaland. Both sides have agreed to work out a special arrangement to exempt central excise and sales tax for goods manufactured in India and destined for Nagaland.
So Indian goods are likely to get cheaper in Nagaland than in neighbouring states and countries — and it could become an important forward trading entrepot for Indian capital in and around the Northeast. Since Indian businesses will have to work in Nagaland through Naga subsidiaries, this could boost the fortunes of Naga capital, a good slice of which rests with the NSCN leaders and those who have supported them.
Both sides have also agreed that barring the railways and National Highways, surface transport in Nagaland would be the responsibility of the stare government — and the Indian government had agreed to examine whether a separate airline for Nagaland would be viable.
The NSCN wanted dual citizenship to protect Nagas from the non-Nagas and give some legitimacy to their position that Nagas are a separate nation. But the Indian government has only agreed to mention prominently on all Naga passports the fact of their residency in Nagaland. The idea is to allow them a sense of dual identity — as Indians and as Nagas. Indian interlocutor RS Pandey has also managed to convince the NSCN leadership that the creation of a pan-Naga “supra-state body” will protect the identity of Nagas.
But it is not clear whether Nagas living in the areas under the “supra-state body” will be shown as Nagaland residents in their passports. If that does not happen, the NSCN leadership, most of whose roots lie in Naga-areas of Manipur, will find it difficult to convince their own kith and kin about the effectiveness of this settlement. The Centre has agreed to allow Nagaland to have a separate emblem, but not a separate flag, a separate constitution and a separate currency. But at the symbolic level, Delhi has agreed to release a series of stamps depicting various tribes of Nagaland and their festivals in a possible effort to project a unique Naga identity within India.
Athong Makury http://sevensisterspost.com/?p=511#
ANOTHER SELL-OUT HAS COME?
I don't think that it is different from that infamous ACCORD of 1975 :( :( We are still under Delhi and Naypyidaw.
Naga solution: ‘Supra state’ may don new avatar Sujit Chakraborty, New Delhi | Seven Sisters Post
The Centre is reportedly toying with the idea of offering the collective leadership of NSCN (IM) “maximum autonomy with administrative and financial control” over Nagas living outside the existing Nagaland as an alternative to the demand for creation of a greater Nagalim. The demand for greater Nagalim includes incorporation of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
However, the subject of law and order will remain with the respective state governments. This is exactly the supra-state model as reported by the Seven Sisters Post in November last year. Although this time there may be a new nomenclature, the tone and tenor remains the same. NSCN (IM) general secretary Th Muivah and chairman Isak Chishi Swu, who are here in the national capital to have another round of peace talks with interlocutor RS Pandey, are scheduled to make a courtesy call to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and home minister P Chidambaram. They are also believed to be toying with the idea of meeting some other political leaders and “friends of the Nagas” in the capital during their stay at the 61 Lodhi estate official bungalow. The Centre has already made it clear to the NSCNIM bosses that there would be no redrawing of the existing boundaries of Nagaland and other neighbouring states. But at the same time, the Union government is ready to amend the Constitution to “accommodate most of their demands” to hammer out an amicable solution.
Sources indicated that as per the proposed offer, the Nagas in the four hill districts of Manipur — Tamenglong, Chandel, Senapati and Ukhrul — will have one administrative unit, and this autonomous council will be responsible for the overall development of the entire Naga areas of Manipur. The administrative body will get direct funding from the Centre besides government aid to promote art, culture and festivals. Sources also added that the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) that has been demanding a separate Naga state covering four districts of Eastern Nagaland — Mon, Tuensang, Longleng and Kiphire — and two Naga-inhabited districts of Arunachal Pradesh — Changlang and Tirap — may be given the same model of autonomous council as a sol ution to their grievances. ENPO general secretary Toshi Wongtung, along with other members, has already met the Prime Minister and the home minister and submitted its memorandum, demanding a separate state of “Frontier Nagaland.” Talking to Seven Sisters Post, Wongtung claimed that “about 45% of the total Naga population live in Eastern Nagaland comprising the four districts of Mon, Tuensang, Longleng and Kiphire.”
“These four districts will be included in the proposed new state and we have the s upport of all the six Naga t ribes — Konyak, Chang, Sangtam, Phom, Yimc hunger and Khiamniungan — living in these four dist ricts. We also want to incorporate the two Naga-inhabited districts of Arunachal Pradesh — Changlang and Tirap —to the proposed Frontier Nagaland. They are our brothers and sisters and we want to live together,” said Wongtung. However, it remains to be seen how the governments o f Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and Assam react to the new proposal. In fact, the United Naga Council of Manipur, which had organised over 100 days of economic blockade last year demanding an ‘alternative arrangement’ for the Nagas in Manipur, is believed to be ready to accept the Centre’s offer for a separate autonomous council for the Nagas in Manipur.
Once the NSCN-IM leadership agree to the proposed “autonomous council with full administrative and financial control” as an alternative to Greater Nagalim demand, the Centre is expected to engage all three Congress ruled states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to explain and convince the state government leaderships for an amicable solution to the six decade-old Naga political problem. Meanwhile, the NSCN leadership is believed to have intensified its campaign for the formation of an underground GPRN set up involving NNC, NSCNIM and the NSCN (Kholey) faction. The Forum for Naga Reconciliation is also working for this purpose. If the three factions come together, it will be an advantage for the Nagas to negotiate with the Centre from the position of strength. This will also allow NSCN bosses to smoothly execute any agreement they sign with the Government of India.
Can't get it! Saying India can't redraw the state boundary. But who plundered all these? If India had gut to draw the boundary of the Nagas without the consent of the Nagas in the past then she must be brave enough to put into the right one. The question is nothing but it has to do with her sincerity. Now for the Nagas, fighting for more than half a century with lots of lives losing and bloodshed, finally Nagas are going to end up with mere "ALTERNATIVE ARRANGEMENT."
Are we really gonna be satisfied with this offer?
Soreingam Kashung If this is what India Govt. has realized even after more than 60 yrs of Nagas Struggle there will never be an end of the struggle from Nagas until India fully realised her mistake. Provided there will be more chaos in her Nation from other people fighting for sovereignty and more autonomy...Naga issue is not a toy thing to be played around...
Khaplang-Yangon truce on cards H. CHISHI The Telegraph
Kohima, April 5: The National Socialist Council of Nagaland, headed by S.S. Khaplang, will soon sign a ceasefire with the Myanmar government to end decades of conflict.
According to a high-ranking NSCN (K) leader, in an effort to hammer out a solution to the Naga political problem in Myanmar, the outfit will soon sign a bilateral ceasefire with the junta-backed civilian government.
The NSCN (K) source said top rebel policymakers from Nagaland, including Khaplang’s envoy, Kughalu Mulatonu, and Khaplang’s blue-eyed boy Wangtin Konyak, have left for Myanmar to work out modalities to declare a truce before April 28, when the outfit will also ink an extension of ceasefire with the government of India.
Khaplang declared a bilateral ceasefire with Delhi on April 28 last year. A source said while Mulatonu and few rebel leaders have left for Myanmar via Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh, another group has entered Myanmar via Moreh in Manipur.
Khaplang will not meet the Myanmar officials but will be the key person to negotiate with during political talks. An NSCN source said Myanmar has also shown keen interest in resolving the Naga issue.
Prior to the declaration of truce with Myanmar, the NSCN (K) will hold a general meeting at its council headquarters not far from the Indo-Myanmar border.
A cessation of fire was inked between the NSCN (K) and Myanmar after the government granted autonomy to the Naga-dominated Sagaing division, after the country’s general elections in 2010. Autonomy has been widely welcomed by the Nagas in Myanmar, with Naga MPs being given top cabinet berths in the Myanmar Assembly.
Delhi and the Nagaland government had also played a major role in ensuring autonomy to the Nagas in Myanmar. Lately, Nagaland government officials, including chief minister Neiphiu Rio, met several top Myanmar officials for special recognition of Nagas in Myanmar.
The Nagaland government also sought a special economic package for the Nagas from the government of India and Myanmar. Though the outfit is working on the modalities to begin talks with Myanmar, a few hardliners have stuck to sovereignty, which Myanmar is likely to reject.
Asked about the fate of other militants groups like Ulfa which are taking shelter in Myanmar, after the signing of ceasefire, a rebel leader said:
“We will remain united like before”. He said ceasefire with Myanmar would not affect the other rebel groups holed up in that country.
The NSCN (K) will soon open its ceasefire supervisory board office at Dimapur under the protection of Indian authorities, since the rival NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) is opposed to opening Khaplang’s office in Dimapur.
On reports of Kitovi and Khole preparing to begin talks with the government of India, the NSCN (K) belittled the rival faction saying the proposed talks would be a futile exercise, as the group did not have enough political base to negotiate with the Centre.
Delhi toys with idea of maximum autonomy with administrative and financial control in lieu of Lim model Naga solution : 'Supra State' likely to don a new avatar Source: The Sangai Express / Courtesy: Seven Sisters Post
New Delhi, The Centre is reportedly toying with the idea of offering the collective leadership of NSCN (IM) "maximum autonomy with administrative and financial control" over Nagas living outside the existing Nagaland as an alternative to the demand for creation of a greater Nagalim.
The demand for greater Nagalim includes incorporation of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. However, the subject of law and order will remain with the respective state governments. This is exactly the supra-state model as reported by the Seven Sisters Post in November last year. Although this time there may be a new nomenclature, the tone and tenor remains the same.
NSCN (IM) general secretary Th Muivah and chairman Isak Chishi Swu, who are here in the national capital to have another round of peace talks with interlocutor RS Pandey, are scheduled to make a courtesy call to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and home minister P Chidambaram. They are also believed to be toying with the idea of meeting some other political leaders and "friends of the Nagas" in the capital during their stay at the 61 Lodhi estate official bungalow.
A proposed map of Nagalim covering other States in the North East region
The Centre has already made it clear to the NSCN (IM) bosses that there would be no redrawing of the existing boundaries of Nagaland and other neighbouring states.
But at the same time, the Union government is ready to amend the Constitution to "accommodate most of their demands" to hammer out an amicable solution.
Sources indicated that as per the proposed offer, the Nagas in the four hill districts of Manipur - Tamenglong, Chandel, Senapati and Ukhrul - will have one administrative unit, and this autonomous council will be responsible for the overall development of the entire Naga areas of Manipur.
The administrative body will get direct funding from the Centre besides government aid to promote art, culture and festivals.
Sources also added that the Eastern Nagaland People's Organisation (ENPO) that has been demanding a separate Naga state covering four districts of Eastern Nagaland - Mon, Tuensang, Longleng and Kiphire - and two Naga-inhabited districts of Arunachal Pradesh - Changlang and Tirap - may be given the same model of autonomous council as a sol ution to their grievances.
ENPO general secretary Toshi Wongtung, along with other members, has already met the Prime Minister and the home minister and submitted its memorandum, demanding a separate state of "Frontier Nagaland" .
Talking to Seven Sisters Post, Wongtung claimed that "about 45% of the total Naga population live in Eastern Nagaland comprising the four districts of Mon, Tuensang, Longleng and Kiphire" .
"These four districts will be included in the proposed new state and we have the s upport of all the six Naga t ribes - Konyak, Chang, Sangtam, Phom, Yimc hunger and Khiamniungan - living in these four dist ricts.
We also want to incorporate the two Naga-inhabited districts of Arunachal Pradesh - Changlang and Tirap -to the proposed Frontier Nagaland.
They are our brothers and sisters and we want to live together," said Wongtung.
However, it remains to be seen how the governments o f Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and Assam react to the new proposal.
In fact, the United Naga Council of Manipur, which had organised over 100 days of economic blockade last year demanding an 'alternative arrangement' for the Nagas in Manipur, is believed to be ready to accept the Centre's offer for a separate autonomous council for the Nagas in Manipur.
Once the NSCN (IM) leadership agree to the proposed "autonomous council with full administrative and financial control" as an alternative to Greater Nagalim demand, the Centre is expected to engage all three Congress ruled states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to explain and convince the state government leaderships for an amicable solution to the six decade-old Naga political problem.
Meanwhile, the NSCN leadership is believed to have intensified its campaign for the formation of an underground GPRN set up involving NNC, NSCN (IM) and the NSCN (Kholey) faction.
The Forum for Naga Reconciliation is also working for this purpose.
If the three factions come together, it will be an advantage for the Nagas to negotiate with the Centre from the position of strength.
This will also allow NSCN bosses to smoothly execute any agreement they sign with the Government of India.
"Hardly any deployment in Mon": Yona Oken Jeet Sandham (NEPS)*
Kohima, April 03 2012: Congress leader from Mon District N Yona Konyak said the issue concerning the areas of the ENPO that culminated to the demand of a separate "Frontier Nagaland State" was very much genuine.
"We should admit that there is chronic negligence by the Governments to this region over the years," he disclosed.
The fact is in the recently concluded State assembly sessions, the members on the floor cutting across party affiliations agreed that the region needed to be taken care of and invested so that people in this region could come up at par with the rest of their counterparts.
This itself was an admission of the prolong negligence to the people of the ENPO region, the NPCC general secretary told NEPS here today.
Asked his opinion on the ENPO issue, Konyak, who was a Congress candidate in the 42 Wakching A/C in last assembly elections, described that it was not an individual issue.
It was a people's movement and this would be there to stay till the right medicine to cure the syndrome was found, he stated.
"But I am happy that the recently concluded Nagaland Assembly had deliberated on the burning issue," he said.
"But I am afraid whether concerns expressed by the legislators would really be translated into reality" .
Konyak also expressed his regrets that in spite of having two cabinet ministers and other four legislators as parliamentary secretary, chairman, adviser, etc. from his district, developments were yet to come up in the district.
"Of course, except for a few pockets, there were hardly any developments worth mentioning in the district of Mon," he alleged.
The Congress leader also revealed how pathetic the conditions of the roads in his constituency, water supply, electricity, administrations, educations, etc.
He said the condition of the road from Naginimora to Wakching remained as it is without any maintenance.
He said the only maintenance came was from the Coal Contractors Union.
He said this road was so important that it was a lifeline of Mon and Tuensang districts.
There was no water supply in Wakching HQs and the only village that availed water supply was Tanhai village.
This was also from the World Vision.
And least electrification had reached Wakching, Chingphoi and Chingdang through another Central scheme. Otherwise, nothing was there from the State Government, he further alleged. Interestingly, for the water supply in Wakching, it was already in the work program and more than Rs 50 lakh was already released against it but never implemented, Konyak stated.
He also disclosed that road from Naginimora to Tiru was also maintained through NREGA fund. Here also interestingly, Rs 25 lakh was sanctioned for maintenance, but it was never utilized, he said. Asked why people did not react, the Congress leader said the citizens in the area got fed up to react now as most of these ruling legislators and Ministers failed to live up to their expectations.
He also said the DAN Government kept on creating more and more administrative blocks, upgrading EAC to SDO, SDO to ADC, but no officers were appointed to man all these offices. "So what is the point if you go on creating offices, upgrading existing offices to higher status while no manpower is there to see these offices," he said.
"It is absolutely meaningless and the people in the backward areas will remain as it is if not worsening" .
* The sender of this news can be contacted at nepsonline(at)yahoo(dot)com .
NSCN (IM)-AR faceoff near designated camp in Zbto
Morung Express News | Pughoboto | April 5
DIG Assam Rifles, Brig. Ravi (2nd right) and NSCN (I-M) commanders of ZB battalion, Satakha designated camp (left) after the two forces came face to face near Upper Tsuyi Bridge, in Zunheboto district, Wednesday.
The Assam Rifles and ZB battalion of the NSCN (I-M) based at Ghatashi designated camp in Zunheboto district had a tiff over interpretation of the cease fire ground rule after they almost collided with each other near the new Upper Tsuyi bridge, Wednesday afternoon A convoy of the Assam Rifles led by DIG Brig. R Ravi on its way to Satakha came face to face with the NSCN (I-M) commander of ZB battalion, ‘Col’ Elija, deputy commander ‘Maj’ Khehoto and some odd cadres in full uniform and carrying arms, at a turning on the road some 200 metres above the bridge around 12.30 pm.
The NSCN (I-M) officers had come to attend the inauguration of the new bridge at the invitation of the area public and were returning to their camp, minutes after Minister for Roads & Bridges, G Kaito, left when the incident happened.
A confrontation that may have turned worse was averted as Pughoboto administration officials and police, public leaders and villagers of the area intervened and diffused the tension. Brig. R Ravi said the AR would not have minded if the NSCN (I-M) officers attended the function in civil dress and without arms. He said the open “show of strength and intimidation” in public was a violation of the ceasefire ground rules.
The AR personnel took photos of the armed NSCN cadres and before proceeding to Satakha insisted that the police take action and file a FIR that arms were recovered from the cadres. On the other hand, the NSCN (I-M) commanders accused the AR of violating the ceasefire rules by passing the designated camp without giving prior information. Stating that site of the incident is well within the perimeters of the designated camp, the NSCN (I-M) officers also said that being ceasefire monitoring group (CFMG) card holders, they were entitled to carry arms. When contacted, official sources said the NSCN officers returned to the camp after signing PR bonds at the police station.
According to revised text of CFGR, 2001, between the Government of India and NSCN (I-M), Rule ‘F’ states that there would be no parading (either in groups of individual) of NSCN cadres in uniform and/or with arms. “For the present, this would cover all populated areas, public transport and highways.”
Rule ‘B’ states that patrolling by Indian Army or paramilitary force “within one km of NSCN designated camps decided after due consultation in the monitoring mechanism, will be carried out with intimation to them.”
Rule ‘F’ states that NSCN members holding identity cards issued by CFMG would, for their personal security, be entitled to have one NSCN cadre each accompany them at all times. The weapons should be carried in a concealed fashion.
Nagalim: Decisive Peace Meeting In Delhi UNPO
Top NSCN-IM officials are heading to Delhi for peace talks with the Indian government, which they are confident will result in a breakthrough agreement.
Below is an article published by the Eastern Mirror:
The long wait might be finally over with the Centre ready and expected to lay down their proposal for a final solution to the protracted Naga political issue. This was indicated by the two top NSCN/GPRN leaders today.
After over 60 rounds of talks and 15 years since signing the ceasefire agreement with the Government of India to negotiate for an honourable political settlement across the table, expectant top NSCN-IM functionaries led by chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Th Muivah left for Delhi for yet another round of high level talks with the Indian counterparts on Tuesday.
However, the meeting this time will not be the usual kind ending with intangible results but rather a decisive one, it was indicated.
Making a significant revelation, Chairman Isak Chishi Swu told reporters prior to their departure at Dimapur airport that the NSCN-IM is expecting a definite settlement from the GoI. “We are expecting a result for settlement,” Swu made it clear.
“We have submitted our written document. It was examined by the decision making body there at the Centre; so we are going to meet those people,” he added, explaining the purpose of their trip to Delhi.
Still looking frail, Swu who had arrived Dimapur last December in a wheelchair, reiterated the GoI is also willing to settle the Naga issue. He again recalled the meeting held with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram sometime in December last year wherein they had shown positive attitude towards solving the Naga problem.
On being asked about their observations of the sentiments of the Naga people as per their interactions held with Naga civil society representatives, hohos and organisations since their arrival last December, Swu said every Naga wants settlement. All Nagas are waiting and longing for a settlement to the protracted Indo-Naga problem, he asserted.
General secretary Th Muivah also expressed the same sentiments with respect to the expectations of a possible settlement. “This time we are expecting something positive,” he said.
Stating that the problem is not with them but with the GoI, Muivah said they have been waiting for a final response from the centre.
“Our history is unique and our solution should be based on the uniqueness of Naga history. This time we are expecting something positive,” he stated.
It may be recalled that, upon his arrival earlier in December, Muivah had disclosed that the dialogue with the GoI on the decades-old Indo-Naga issue is on the verge of reaching a meeting point for an honourable settlement acceptable to all. He had also sought to make it clear that the ball is now in the court of the Indian Government, which he reiterated today.
On the date of the expectant meeting, Swu said it was yet to be fixed, but informed that it will be held within the next 10 days.
Suu Kyi win raises hope of Stilwell road reopening Nagaland Post
GUWAHATI/DIMAPUR, (AGENCIES/NPN) Overwhelming victory of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in a by-election last Sunday hasn’t just signalled Myanmar’s switchover from five decades of military rule to democracy.
It has also raised hopes of a WW II road from Assam to China being reopened after 1945 besides fast-tracking of several Indian projects in Myanmar such as Sittwe Port.
A growing number of influential voices in India are pressing the government to revive the Stilwell Road, a World War II-era supply route that once connected northeast India with Kunming through northern Burma, with the goal of increasing India’s poor and restive northeast region’s business ties with Southeast Asia and China.
The 1,736 km Stilwell Road, named after American General Joseph Warren Stilwell aka Vinegar Joe, links Ledo in eastern Assam with Kunming in southern China’s Yunnan province through the Pangsau Pass on the Arunachal Pradesh-Myanmar border.
Stilwell took two years to have the road built so that the Allies could supply Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang forces after the Japanese had cut an arterial rote in 1942.
The road, last used by the Oxford-Cambridge Overland Expedition in 1955, stretches 61 km in India, 1,033 km in Myanmar and 632 km in China. Much of the Myanmar portion is controlled by Burmese rebels and drug cartels.
“Stilwell Road isn’t just a piece of near-forgotten history; it is a relentless journey towards economic cooperation between Northeast India and Southeast Asia. We hope democratisation will enable Yangon to have a more rational view on liberalisation and economics will have precedence over narrow geo-political sectarianism,” said Assam industries minister Pradyut Bordoloi.
Bordoloi represents Margherita assembly constituency, wherein lies the coal-rich Ledo town. The Stilwell Road starts barely 200m west of Lekhapani railway station, Indian Railway’s ‘last frontier’.
“The pace of friendship and cooperation between New Delhi and Yangon has been increasing over the past decade, and political developments in Myanmar will not slow things down.
Stilwell Road is close to our hearts, but we are going by what the Myanmar government has prioritised in terms of road infrastructure there. For instance, we have improved the 160 km Friendship Road (from Tamu on Manipur border to Kalemyo in Burma) that we helped build in 2001 besides focusing on the Sittwe Port project,” DoNER minister Pawan Singh Ghatowar told HT from New Delhi.
Sittwe is located on an estuarial island created at the confluence of the Kaladan, Mayu, and Lay Mro rivers emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
Estimated at Rs 550 crore in 2008, the project is part of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Facility envisaging connectivity between Indian ports on the eastern seaboard at Sittwe in Myanmar and then through river transport and road to Mizoram. The Kaladan river is navigable up to a point near the Mizoram-Myanmar border.
“Kaladan-Sittwe is crucial for Mizoram and Northeast India’s economic uplift, and we hope the political tidings in Myanmar will fast-track the project besides facilitating more people-to-people interactions and better border trade,” Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla said from state capital Aizawl.
China has already rebuilt its 600-kilometer segment into a six-lane expressway and has been assisting Myanmar with construction of its 1,000-kilometer segment of the road.
Beijing has been a strong advocate of rebuilding the link all the way to Ledo. New Delhi had in 2001 inked proposals with Yangon for building 230 km of the road from Ledo to Tanai in Myanmar.
India began to rebuild its 61-kilometer segment of the road in April 2007, but then scrapped the project in August 2009, presumably out of security and drug trafficking concerns.
In addition to potentially increasing India’s sway in Myanmar and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, a functioning Stilwell Road would create an attractive new channel for goods to flow between India and China and would significantly raise Kunming’s regional profile.
Goods hauled between the two countries via the renovated road would take two days to make the trip. Currently, the only transport options are costly air freight or sea routes that pass south of Singapore through the US-patrolled Malacca Strait. The road’s reopening would cut the trip between China and India by 5,000 kms.