- Work on the 1,000 km-long India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway officially started with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) signing an agreement with a joint-venture (JV) between Punj Lloyd and Varaha Infra to upgrade the Yagyi-Kalewa section of the India-Myanmar Friendship Road in Myanmar.
- This is NHAI’s first international project agreement. The project has been funded by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and would be executed on EPC mode.
Significance of the Highway:
- Once completed, greater flows of trade and investment will take place along the route, stimulating the movement of goods and people, creating jobs, promoting tourism as well as raising the livelihoods of the peoples in the region.
Crucial for India
- First, it will help improve connectivity between India’s remote Northeastern part and Southeast Asia. For long, the lack of physical connectivity with Southeast Asia has been an Achilles’ heel in India’s “Act-East Policy.” The trilateral highway will improve India’s connectivity with Myanmar and Thailand, and in the future there are plans to connect it with pre-existing roads and take it all the way to Vietnam.
- Secondly, with the construction of this road, which started as the India-Myanmar friendship road way back in 2001, the recent non-attendance by India at China’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing seems to have injected a new measure of earnestness among Indian policy planners when it comes to executing such road projects.
- Thirdly, Northeast India has been lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to infrastructure. When completed, the IMT highway will also give easy access to the Northeastern states to the sea (via Myanmar).
- The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of National Highways in India.
- It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988.
- In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous body.