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Suchak Patel aked: Since it is said that infrastructure gap is the main problem India faces in integrating with the ASEAN, so what are the key infrastructure projects undertaken by India as part of its ‘Act East’ policy and their likely future advantages?

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  • Udai Bhanu Singh replies: Though there is more to the India-ASEAN integration such as the people-to-people connectivity, cultural exchange, etc., but physical infrastructure is critical as a catalyst for other interactions including economic (trade and investment). The ‘Act East’ policy is expected to provide an impetus to the infrastructure projects under implementation from India's northeast and India's eastern seaboard.

    The key infrastructure projects include - the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway running from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Mandalay in Myanmar, and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project connecting Lawngtlai in Mizoram to Sittwe Port in Myanmar, including the development of the Sittwe Port. In addition, there is the Rih-Tiddim and the Rih-Falam road project to enhance connectivity and border trade with Myanmar. Moreh will be an important point of entry of two Asian Highways - AH-1 and AH-2. Once the various nodes such as Dawei are developed, the Mekong-India Economic Corridor (MIEC) will link India with the Mekong countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam or CLMV) via Dawei and Bangkok.  The Stilwell Road, starting from Ledo in Assam, is a World War II road which has some missing links which are awaiting restoration. Once completed it would provide a seamless transportation link between Ledo and Kunming (Yunnan Province, China) via cities in Myanmar.

    The Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor would link the four countries, with Kolkata to Kunming Highway (K2K) constituting an important element of the corridor. So far South Asia does not have a rail link with Southeast Asia but once the missing or connecting links are completed, the Trans-Asian Railway would provide a Delhi-Hanoi rail link. New airports and possible links to Southeast Asia present further possibilities. All this will change the way we look at not only our neighbourhood but also the Northeastern parts of our country.

    Posted on July 31, 2015