Thursday, December 8, 2011

Burma-to-India trade route project not getting media attention

Thursday, 08 December 2011 16:53 Te Te

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Kaladan Multi-Modal Project in Arakan and Chin state has not attracted much media coverage and some residents are worried about the project’s negative impact, says Rakhine Coastal Conservation Association (RCA) Vice Chairman Maung Maung Thein Pe.

“Mostly, people don’t know about the project,” he said. “Some people think that their local products will be able to sell directly [to India] due to the project while ordinary villagers think that the project will damage their businesses,” Maung Maung Thein Pe told Mizzima.

Oo Hla Saw, the secretary of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party. Photo: Mizzima

The Kaladan Multi-Modal Project is intended to facilitate trade between Burma and India’s Mizoram State. The project includes dredging of the Kaladan River in order that cargo vessels can travel between Sittwe and Paletwa. A highway will also link Paletwa in Chin State and India’s Mizoram.

RCA and Gender and Development Initiatives Myanmar (GDI) conducted a survey in August and September of 140 residents’ attitudes on the project in Sittwe, Kyauktaw and Ponn Kyun in Arakan State and Paletwa in Chin State.

“Although we see some reports have talked about the advantages of the project, we have not seen any report that can explain to the residents how the possible adverse effects of the project can be minimized” an official from GDI told Mizzima.

Currently, dredging is underway at the mouth of the Kaladan River to construct the Sittwe Port. Fishing appears to be banned in the project area and some villages and farms are likely to be confiscated to build the highway, sources said.

“Trucks carrying sand are going here and there till late in the night. So the roads have been damaged and the whole town is covered by sand. At the bank, they are digging deep holes,” said Oo Hla Saw, the secretary of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

Sand excavation is taking place between the Shukhintha Hotel and Sittwe Hotel on Sittwe beach to be used in constructing the port, he said.

Regarding the highway that will link Mizoram and Paletwa, Chin Progressive Party Secretary Pu Shein Tun said, “Some residents living in Paletwa in Chin State have asked for help from our party because they are worried that their land or farm will be confiscated to build the highway, so we are preparing to go there.”

India and Burma signed the US $120 million Kaladan Project in April 2008. Presently, India’s Essar company is carrying out the construction, which started in 2009. It is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

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