India-Myanmar-Thailand Highway

IMT Highway

THE HANS INDIA |   Feb 04,2016 , 02:28 AM IST

Imparting thrust to the Indian government’s Act East policy, Vice-President Hamid Ansari will arrive in Bangkok on February 3. Thailand has been a trusted and good friend of India. It is taking part in the 3,200 km India-Myanmar-Thailand) trilateral highway, making use of India’s Northeast proximity to Southeast Asia.

The IMT highway is a strategic road that connects Moreh town in Chandal district in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar's Tamu, Mandalay and Myawaddy. The Myawaddy-Thinggan Nyenaung-Kawkareik section of the highway (in Myanmar) became operational in August 2015. The first 26.5 km stretch will bring the travel time down to one hour from the previous journey time of 3 hours.  

There is also talk about introducing a bus service between India and Myanmar. If introduced, the service will ply between Imphal, Manipur, and Mandalay. The (IMT) Trilateral Highway is an ambitious project of 1,990 miles (3200 km) that will connect India with the ASEAN region. It is a part of India’s upgraded “Act East” policy, which seeks to strategically build India’s link with the Southeast Asian region.

The project comes off the heels of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal Motor Vehicle (BBIN MV) Agreement, signed in June 2015, and the proposed India–ASEAN trade center. In Phase 1, India will assume the responsibility of 48.4 miles (78 km) of missing links, upgrade 36 miles (58 km) of existing roads, and possibly improve a further 82 miles (132 km) of road.

Thailand will upgrade a total of 119.3 miles (192 km) of road under this phase and will take up another 62 miles (100 km) under Phase 2. India’s Border Roads Organization (BRO) has already upgraded the Tamu–Kalewa–Kalemyo road (TKK) in Myanmar, and the Indian government is responsible for its maintenance. The Trilateral Highway project will be completed by 2018.

The proximity of the NE region to Southeast Asia and China makes it a strategic area for India, particularly for private investment. This was highlighted by the North Eastern Vision 2020 policy document. "We are developing the protocol in advance and the agreement is expected to be signed by last week of March or the first week of April 2016," according to Union Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chibber.  He said the endeavour was to use the IMT to integrate the SAARC and ASEAN regions.