Sinlung /
30 July 2013

Mizoram-Myanmar Link Project Hits Forest Ministry Roadblock

By Adam Halliday

Aizawl, Jul 30 : Work on the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project (KMMTP), that aims to link India with Myanmar's Sittwe port through the Kolodyne river, has been halted, senior state officials said.

Senior government officials told The Indian Express that the state's Public Works Department (PWD) halted work as clearance has not yet been granted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

Sources said the PWD has built about 60 km of road and begun laying stones in another 20 km.

Currently, two private firms - Delhi-based RDS Projects Ltd and Orissa-based ARSS Private Ltd - are stationed at the project site with men and machinery. The stretch of the project in Myanmar, except on port upgradation, has not taken off yet, according to state officials.

Although in-principle approval had been granted two years ago by the MoEF, conditions stipulated that work should not begin unless land acquisition and compensatory afforestation were done and a final clearance granted.

In July, PWD halted work after reminders from the forest department, according to sources and documents accessed by The Indian Express. The forest department had repeatedly asked the PWD to stop work as about 15.24 hectares of forest land and 181.51 hectares of "degraded jhum land" falls within the project area.

Besides forest clearance, demands for compensation that cropped up recently have stalled work on the project. District officials said there are more than 400 claimants to land that will fall within the project area. The state government had to send police some months ago after the claimants stopped workers.

KMMTP is a major component of India's 'Look East' policy in the Northeast.


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