NEW DELHI, March 7 - Slip-up in operation of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport (KMTT) has upset the connectivity schedule of the Act East Policy, with a parliamentary panel recommending that the reasons for delay must be addressed soon and close monitoring of the project.
The parliamentary panel further recommended that the progress should be reviewed regularly to complete the project at the earliest so that the connectivity woes of the northeastern region are resolved.
The standing committee attached to the DoNER Ministry has noted the progress of the KMTT project that is being piloted and funded by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The committee is displeased to note that the physical progress of road construction work is not at all satisfactory.
The committee understands that this project is an integral part of the Act East Policy of India and will contribute to the economic development in the Northeast.
The panel�s report tabled in both the Houses noted that the MEA was to provide an alternative connectivity to Mizoram with Haldia-Kolkata ports through the Kaladan river in Myanmar. The KMTT project will create a multi-modal transport corridor for shipment of cargo from the eastern ports of India to Myanmar as well as northeastern part of India via Myanmar.
The project includes a waterway component of 158 km on the Kaladan river from Sittwe to Paletwa in Myanmar and a road component of 109 km from Paletwa to Zorinpui on the India-Myanmar border in Mizoram. A framework agreement between India and Myanmar in this regard was signed in 2008.
The ministry informed that the Inland Waterways Authority of India is the project development consultant for the waterways component of the project.
M/s Ircon Infrastructure Services Limited is project management consultant for the road component, while work for construction of waterways component was awarded to M/s Essar Project (India) Limited in 2010.
The estimated cost of the project is Rs 2,904.04 crore (Rs 982.99 crore for waterways and Rs 1,921.05 crore for road component) as approved by the Union Cabinet in October 2015. Work for construction of road was awarded to a joint venture (JV) of M/s EPIL and M/s C&C in March 2017.
The expenditure incurred so far on the Kaladan project is Rs 639.93 crore (Rs. 519.88 crore for waterways component and Rs 120.05 crore for road component). The originally approved works under waterways were completed in May 2017 and a port operator has been appointed for operation and maintenance of the waterways component on February 1, 2020.
Work for construction of road was to take three years to complete. However, the ministry informed that the physical progress of road construction work is not at all satisfactory. Financial crisis faced by JV partner M/s C&C delayed action by M/s EPIL, besides non-availability of access to the project site from India-Myanmar border in Mizoram and adverse security situation in the project area are the main reasons for delays in the project.