India and Myanmar agreed to work towards the operationalization of Sittwe Port in the first quarter of 2021. The decision was taken during M.M. Naravane, Indian Army Chief General, and Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Indian Foreign Secretary's visit to Myanmar.
- Both the Indian officials traveled to Myanmar for a two-day visit. They also called on State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s Commander in Chief of Defence Services.
- The announcement regarding the work of Sittwe Port came post the conclusion of the two-day visit. The Indian delegation during their visit also presented 3,000 vials of Remdesivir to Myanmar’s State Counsellor, as a symbol of cooperation between the countries to fight COVID-19.
Bilateral discussion between India and Myanmar
- As per the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the ongoing infrastructure projects assisted by India such as Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project and trilateral highway were also part of the bilateral discussion between India and Myanmar.
- Both the nations during the discussion also agreed to work towards the operationalization of Sittwe Port in the Rakhine State in the first quarter of 2021.
Agreement on Sittwe Port
- India began working on the mega infrastructure project, which had several components, in Myanmar in 2010. One of the key aspects was the construction of an Integrated port and Inland waterway transport terminal at Sittwe, which was completed in 2018 at the cost of Rs. 517.29 crores.
- India had also signed an agreement with the Myanmar government for the operationalization of the port in October 2018. However, the conflict between the Myanmar military and the insurgent group Arakan Army impacted the operationalization. In 2019, the Arakan Army had specifically targeted the Kaladan project by abducting officials and Indian workers.
Significance of Sittwe Port
- Once in operation, the project will not only link India’s northeast to the Southeast region, but it will also allow the goods to be transported from Kolkata to Sittwe and then onwards by roads to the river to Mizoram. The project aims at developing the transport infrastructure in northeast India and southwest Myanmar.
Sittwe Port: Background
- The port is a deep underwater port constructed by India at Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in Myanmar, on the Bay of Bengal. Sittwe port is situated at the mouth of Kaladan river and is being financed by India as a part of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, a collaboration between India and Myanmar.