May 11, 2016 4:59:07 am
India, along with Asian Development Bank (ADB), is developing various infrastructure projects worth $5 billion in South Asia to improve connectivity in the region.
“With ADB support, India is presently developing two priority road corridors. The first will connect India with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan through the ‘chicken neck’ area of North Bengal,” Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said while speaking at the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) 2025 workshop organised by ADB.
The second road corridor will establish India-Myanmar connectivity in Manipur, he said. Also, Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at Agartala and Petrapole on India-Bangladesh border will be operationalised.
“Another ICP at Moreh on India-Myanmar border will be developed. We are also planning to establish ICPs and improved Land Customs Stations (LCS) at key border points with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan to ease the movement of goods and people within the subregion.
“India is planning to develop regional connectivity projects worth almost $5 billion in SASEC,” he said.
Several projects are also lined up in the power sector. India has been assisting its neighbours in the sub-continent to improve their power situation. The India-Bangladesh transmission line is providing safe and reliable interconnection of the power grids to supply 500 MW of power to Bangladesh, he said. NTPC in partnership with Bangladesh Power Development Board will develop the 1,320 MW Maitree Thermal Power Project, he added.
The Power Grid Corporation of India is also engaged in developing three 230 kv transmission lines in Myanmar with the support of a credit line of $64 million between the Exim Bank of India and the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank, he said.
India is also in discussions with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan for a 1,680 km mega gas pipeline project linking the four countries, he said, adding that at the request of the four participating countries, ADB has agreed to house the secretariat of this project.
Das also listed cross border connectivity projects in transport along with the simplification and harmonisation of procedures at the borders including establishment of specialized forums on customs and electricity transmission. “The Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement is a shining example of cross-border cooperation among four countries to ease movement of vehicles transiting through third countries”, Das said.
As part of its recently launched development initiative for ports called ‘Sagarmala’, which will help modernise ports and coastlines to contribute more to growth, the government is developing two new ports in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
The focus has been on improving the port infrastructure, modernisation of existing facilities and increasing the capacity and draught at ports, he said.
“Apart from the modernisation of the existing ports in the east coast, India is developing two new ports on the same coast line at Dugarajapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Sagar Island in West Bengal. These ports will further enhance our trade with the neighbours and ASEAN countries,” Das said.
The Cabinet had given its in-principle approval for Sagarmala project in March last year. It is said that the Sagarmala project would boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product by 2 per cent. About 90 per cent of India’s trade by volume and 70 per cent by value are moved through ports and the major ports thus play a key role in facilitating external trade.
Das further said India is also developing the East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC), with ADB as lead partner, and Vizag Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC) project is part of the first phase. The goal of the ECEC is not only to generate domestic output and employment, but also to create a more competitive environment for the development of trade and industry in the region, he said.
The ECEC will facilitate the movement of the bulk of India’s major natural resources like coal and iron ore and can serve as a node for extractive and downstream value-added industries, he said.
So far, 37 investment projects in the region, worth over $6.7 billion, have been or are being implemented under the SASEC framework. There are more than 20 regional investment projects currently under consideration in the next 3 years.
The SASEC Program involves Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in a project-based partnership that aims to promote regional prosperity, improve economic opportunities, and build a better quality of life for the people of the subregion.
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