Source: LiveMint.com, Jan 09, 2018
Kolkata: Four months after identifying the successful bidder, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) issued the letter of award to Punj Lloyd and Varaha Infra joint venture last week for the construction of a two-lane highway in the Kalewa-Yargi section of the proposed India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway.
The highway will connect India with Thailand through Myanmar, the only ASEAN country that shares land border with India. With $70-billion trade, ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner.
The 120-km-long road section is estimated to cost ₹1,177 crore. India has already built the 132-km section, referred to as Friendship Highway, from the border town of Tamu to Kalewa. A separate contract is underway for upgradation of 69 bridges along the Tamu-Kalewa stretch.
According to sources, after Punj-Varaha joint venture accepts the award, NHAI will meet the Myanmarase authorities to ensure a minimum 80 per cent land availability to kick off construction. Myanmar has already assured NHAI of land availability. Punj has past experience of executing contracts in Myanmar.
A detailed project report (DPR) is underway to build the Rih-Tedim road that will help connect the Trilateral Highway through Zokhawthar-Rih border in Mizoram, where India has already committed huge sums for widening the highway. Currently, Myanmar is connected by road only through Moreh in Manipur.
Meanwhile, India plans to extend road connectivity to the entire CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) region. A preliminary survey has also been initiated for rail connectivity parallel to the Trilateral Highway. Japan is interested in funding and collaborating with India in the trilateral rail project.
While the trilateral highway is fully financed by India, Delhi is contemplating a sizable line of credit for future connectivity projects with ASEAN countries.
Parallel to overseas connectivity projects, the Narendra Modi government has rolled out multi-billion dollar projects to improve both road and rail connectivity to the North-Eastern States. As part of the project, a DPR is launched to build a new road-cum-rail bridge at Dhubri near the Bengal-Assam border.
The proposed 15-km long Dhubri-Fulbari bridge will pave way for easy connectivity to the Garo Hills in Meghalaya and the neighbouring Northern Bangladeshi districts.
India recently completed building a 9-km long Dhola-Sadia bridge at the Assam-Arunachal border. Another 5-km long bridge at Bogibeel over Brahmaputra is nearing completion.