India finally kicked off the construction of the 109-km road project that connects Paletwa river terminal to Zorinpui on the Mizoram border in Myanmar, as part of the $484-million Kaladan Multimodal project. But completing it by2019 will be a herculean task.
The Rs 1,600-crore road project that passes through dense forests and hilly areas was awarded to Delhi-based C&C Constructions in June 2017. But the contractor had to wait till January this year for the requisite clearances from the Myanmar government to start ground work.
On completion, the project will help connect Mizoram with the Sittwe Port in Rakhine State of Myanmar. India has already completed the rest of the Kaladan project work in Myanmar. This includes the construction of the Sittwe Port on Lakadan river mouth in Rakhine, construction of a river terminal 158 upstream at Paletwa and dredging of the Kaladan river.
On the Indian side, work is on to extend the Aizawl-Saiha National Highway by 90 km to the international border at Zorinpui. Also, a ₹6,000-crore project is under way for four-laning the 300-km highway from Myanmar border to Aizawl to ensure the faster movement of goods.
Completion of the Paletwa-Zorinpui road, therefore, holds the key to operationalise the Kaladan multi-modal project. However, in a major planning faux pax, the project was not taken up till October 2015, when the Narendra Modi government escalated the Budget by nearly six times and roped in the state-owned Ircon Infrastructure as consultant.