Highway pact after car rally

India hopes that the much-awaited signing of a highway agreement with Myanmar and Thailand will materialise after a trilateral friendship car rally in November.

By Rining Lyngdoh in Shilong
  • Published 10.08.16
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File picture of a car participating in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal friendship car rally in 2015. File picture

Shillong, Aug. 9: India hopes that the much-awaited signing of a highway agreement with Myanmar and Thailand will materialise after a trilateral friendship car rally in November.

"We are planning to do a trilateral friendship car rally in November starting from Guwahati to Shillong, and then to Manipur before going to Myanmar and Thailand. The car rally is to promote this vehicle agreement," Preeti Saran, secretary (east), ministry of external affairs, told The Telegraph here on the sidelines of the opening of an Asean study centre at North Eastern Hill University (Nehu) here.

Asked if signing of the vehicle agreement would follow soon after the car rally, the official said, "The agreement is under negotiation between India, Myanmar and Thailand. Hopefully we can sign the trilateral agreement after the car rally."

There has been an inordinate delay in signing of the agreement.

The proposed trilateral strategic agreement will facilitate movement of vehicles linking Manipur's Moreh (India) to Mae Sot (Thailand) via different routes in Myanmar.

During the visit of Thailand Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-O-Cha to India in June, both the countries agreed to expedite the construction of India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and hold negotiations on the India-Myanmar-Thailand motor vehicles agreement.

The trilateral highway, which is under renovation, includes 73 bridges and is expected to boost communication between the Northeast and Southeast Asia.

India provides funding for the renovations of 73 dilapidated bridges along the route that were originally built during World War II.

The foreign ministry had already invited a tender for selection of a contractor for constructing 69 bridges, including approach roads on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa section of the trilateral highway in Myanmar.

"We have now started the construction of the road and 69 bridges in Myanmar, and it is expected to be completed by 2019," Saran said.

India, under the present BJP-led NDA government, is also actively pursuing to implement the Act East Policy aimed at enhancing relations with Asean and other east Asian nations, especially through trade and commerce.

The trilateral highway will provide access for goods from the northeastern region and other parts of India to markets of Asean countries through a land route once Myanmar is connected by road to Thailand.

India also planned to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand highway to Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam in the second phase.