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CCEA clears widening of Manipur-Myanmar highway stretch

LiveMint logoLiveMint 12-07-2017 PTI

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday said it has cleared the widening and upgradation of a national highway stretch from Imphal to Myanmar border that will eventually go up to Thailand and Malaysia under an Asian Highway project.

The 65km Imphal-Moreh stretch in Manipur on NH-39 is part of the project to connect India with Southeast Asian nations. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave the approval for the stretch that will cost Rs1,630.29 crore. It also approved four-laning of Solapur-Bijapur section of new NH-52 in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Four-laning of about 110km road is estimated to cost Rs1,889 crore including the cost of land acquisition and pre-construction activities.

“It (Imphal-Moreh) is connecting India to Myanmar. Then we can go to Bangkok and then to Indonesia to Malaysia. So it is the length which is connecting internationally,” road transport, shipping and highways minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters. “It is going to create more employment and business in that area particularly in Manipur. It will be a growth engine for North-East region of the country,” he said.

Landlocked Manipur, with almost 90% of the area under difficult terrain, has only road transport as a means of mass transport system. Gadkari said the project is being developed with Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) loan assistance under the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Investment Program. It aims at upgradation of road infrastructure in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India (BBIN) in order to improve the regional connectivity among BBIN nations.

“The Imphal-Moreh corridor is also a part of the Asian Highway No.1 and acts as India’s Gateway to the East. Thus, trade, commerce and tourism in the region will get a boost,” Gadkari said, adding that the project will create 2.67 lakh man days of employment in Manipur.

After the completion of four-laning, the travel time will reduce from the current three-and-a-half hours to one-and-half hours. For fulfilling India’s ‘Look East Policy’ and to promote and enhance trade link with South East Asia, the government has notified an Integrated Custom Post (ICP) at Moreh, a Manipur town bordering Myanmar.

The development of this project is essential in order to support the increased traffic volume due to coming up of ICP, an official release said. The workers of Manipur who specialise in creating bamboo and wood based handicraft items and uniquely designed hand woven textile items will get a new market among the Myanmar’s customers, it said.

Small scale industries such as those making farm implements and tools, stationery, plastic extrusion items, carpentry units, could also develop markets beyond the border, the release added. Gadkari said the work on Solapur-Bijapur stretch will create 4.35 lakh man days of employment.

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