Continuous insurgency presence along the Indo-Myanmar border is delaying the implementation of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport (KMTT) project, the DoNER ministry said.
Construction of a road from Paletwa in Chin State to Zorinpui in India’s Mizoram has been impeded by the precarious security situation in the region, the ministry said.
The DoNER ministry also informed to a parliamentary committee on home affairs that one of the JV partners of the appointed contractor (M/s C&C constructions) has gone bankrupt and an insolvency proceeding has been initiated in the NCLT since March 2019 due to the acute financial crisis of the contractor.
The central government has conceptualized the KMTT project in accordance with the Act East Policy.
The policy aims to provide alternative connectivity to Mizoram with Haldia and Kolkata ports through the Kaladan River in Myanmar.
It is a strategic connectivity project to connect the eastern ports of India with Myanmar by developing a port at Sittwe on the western coast of Myanmar and linking the Sittwe port with a river channel and road to Mizoram.
The ministry said prolonged monsoon season in Myanmar (May to November), completely greenfield nature of the project and difficult terrain along the project length in Myanmar, COVID19 pandemic are some other reasons which have hampered the project work.
The project has two components including the Waterways component and the roadways component.
The waterways component of KMTT includes the construction of a port and an Inland Water Transport (IWT) terminal at Sittwe; dredging of the access channel and river channel at the port, development of 158 Km long navigational channel along Kaladan River from Sittwe to Paletwa; construction of an IWT Terminal at Palewa and construction of six 300-ton barges.
M/s Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is Project Development Consultant (PDC) since March 2009.
The port and IWT development contract was carried out by M/s Essar Projects India Ltd. (EPIL) since April 2010.
The construction of the main work was completed in May 2017 and handed over to the government of Myanmar.
Additional works such as the construction of staff quarters, fuel bunkering, etc. at Paletwa, procurement of furniture, removal of 2 wrecks found in the access channel at Sittwe committed by the Government of India were also completed in December 2018.
A port operator has been appointed jointly by the 73 Government of India and Myanmar in December 2019.
The port operator has commenced its operation from February 1, 2020.
“Efforts are being made to operationalize the port and IWT terminals,” the ministry said.
A project oversight Committee (POC) has been constituted with members from MEA, IWAI and Kolkata Port Trust to oversee the day-to-day activities involved in the early operationalization of Sittwe Port.
The Road component of KMTT includes a new greenfield road project of 109.2 km to be built from Paletwa in Myanmar to Zorinpui on the India-Myanmar border (Mizoram) to double-lane NH specifications.
M/s. IRCON Infrastructure & Services Limited (IRCONISL) is the project management consultant.
The work was awarded to EPI-C&C JV [a joint venture of Engineers Projects (India) Limited and C&C Construction Co. Ltd.] on March 17, 2017.
The current physical progress is 3.78 percent as on January 31, 2021.
The initial plan of the project was to develop a 225 km long waterway from Sittwe Port till Kaletwa (transshipment point) and a road component of 62 km from Kaletwa up to Zorinpui in Mizoram at the Indo-Myanmar border.
This was subsequently changed due to actual geographical conditions on the site to 158 km of waterways and 109 km of the surface route after shifting the trans-shipment point on the Kaladan River from Kaletwato Paletwa and the specifications of the road component were also changed from intermediate to double lane as well.
The shifting of trans-shipment points and changes in specifications and scope of work along with additional facilities led to the revision of the cost and timelines.
The ministry further informed that the revised project cost approved by the Cabinet in October 2015 is Rs 2904.04 crore (Rs 982.99 crore for waterways and Rs.1921.05 crore for road component).
Funds released so far for the Kaladan Road component are Rs 118 crore.
Funds spent on developing the Kaladan waterways component are Rs 503 crore, the ministry said.