SEA envoys keen to inspect Indo-Myanmar Road
IMPHAL, 15th Oct: Giving a new thrust to the Act East Policy initiated by the central government with the sole objective of enhancing economic, strategic and military ties with ASEAN countries, ambassadors of nine South East Asian (SEA) countries to India have expressed willingness to visit the state to closely inspect the Indo-Myanmar Road which is a key Asian Highway.
The nine diplomats are Moe Kyaw Aung of Myanmar, who is taking the lead role in the proposed visit to the state; Lim Thuan Kuan of Singapore; Chutintorn Gongsakdi of Thailand; Pham Sanh Chau of Vietnam; Sidharto Suryodipuro of Indonesia; Ung Sean of Cambodia; Bounneme Chouanghom of Lao PDR; Hidayat Abdul Hamid of Malaysia and Dato Paduka Sidek Ali of Brunei. Their willingness to inspect the Indo-Myanmar Road was conveyed to Committee on Act East Policy convener RK Shivachandra.
Speaking to this daily, Shivachandra informed that formal invitation is yet to be sent to the nine foreign envoys though they are keen to visit the state to have a close inspection of the Indo-Myanmar Road, an important Asian Highway during the Sangai Festival commencing from November 24 but the central government will be intimated about their desire to do so.
He conveyed that the nine ambassadors have already inspected border towns connecting Manipur and Myanmar and also toured Mizoram and Nagaland but their willingness to have minute assessment of the Indo-Myanmar Road which is the shortest route connecting India and South East Asian countries could be seen as a significant move following the introduction of the Act East Policy.
He said that with Imphal-Moreh road becoming the most suitable route for international trade with the initiation of the Act East Policy, the modified form of Look East Policy and acting on the plea made by chief minister N Biren for further development of the road, the centre is planning to expand the road into four lanes by sanctioning Rs 1600 crore. Drawing the attention of the officials concerned towards the willingness of the foreign diplomats to visit Manipur which would prove beneficial for the state, Shivachandra informed that an opportunity to hold meetings between the envoys and entrepreneurs, intellectuals and representatives of different sections will be taken during their few days stay in the state.
Exuding confidence that the state could also grasp the in-depth knowledge of proper border management from the diplomats, he elaborated that the officials will be escorted to Moreh from Imphal and they will hold a night at Tamu before heading to New Delhi from the state capital.
Shivachandra also informed that for the first time chief minister of Shan state, Myanmar will take part in the ensuing Sangai Festival and as done in the past, friendly football matches will be played between Manipur and Myanmar teams at Pologround and Wangjing as part of the tourism festival. He observed that the centre needs to come up with various measures to facilitate trade between India and Myanmar under the Act East Policy though the neighbouring country has accepted online visa for entering the country at any given time.
He regretted that construction of 69 bridges in Myanmar is yet to be materialised though the centre has already sanctioned funds by floating proper tender and as such either chief minister N Biren should be entrusted to hand over the work order to a competency agency or the funds be handed over to the Sagaing government of Myanmar to complete the construction of the bridges within a specified time.