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India has taken a significant step in boosting its connectivity with Southeast Asia by securing the rights to operate Sittwe Port in Myanmar. This marks India’s second overseas port venture, following the Chabahar Port in Iran.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) greenlit a proposal for India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) to assume complete operational control of Sittwe Port, strategically located on the Kaladan River.

IPGL, a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Deendayal Port Trust, was specifically established for developing overseas port projects. Their current focus lies in equipping and running container terminals at Chabahar Port. With Sittwe under their belt, IPGL strengthens India’s maritime presence in the region.

Sittwe Port itself is a key component of the Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project. This ambitious initiative aims to create a seamless trade route connecting eastern India’s Kolkata port with Sittwe in Myanmar by sea. The project doesn’t stop there. It further envisions linking Sittwe to Paletwa within Myanmar via the Kaladan River waterway, and ultimately connecting Paletwa to Zorinpui in India’s Mizoram state through a dedicated road network.

The Kaladan project offers a multitude of advantages. It provides an alternative route for transporting goods to India’s northeastern states, significantly reducing both cost and distance compared to the traditional route through the narrow Siliguri Corridor. This not only fosters economic development but also lessens India’s dependence on this geographically vulnerable region.

The inauguration of Sittwe Port in May 2023, marked by the arrival of the first Indian cargo ship, signified the project’s potential. With India now fully operational at the port, this critical trade link is poised to flourish, strengthening ties and economic activity between India and Southeast Asia.