National South Connect

New road, rail links to make Manipur gateway to South East Asia: CM Biren Singh

Imphal | Manipur is hoping to benefit from the upcoming Asian Highway and rail connectivity to become an investment destination in the northeast, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said.

Singh said the state could well become the main gateway to Southeast Asia via the land route as work on the four-lane highway is on in full swing. National Highway 39 that passes through the state capital Imphal up to Moreh on the Indo-Myanmar border is being developed as Asian Highway 1.

The trans-Asian highway traverses through several countries in the continent and the stretch through Manipur is scheduled to be completed by mid-2021, he said. “Land related issued have been solved and land acquisition completed,” Singh told a visiting group of journalists recently.

Work on the Jiribam-Imphal railway line is also going on and the project has a deadline of December 2020 to be operational and bring Manipur on the Indian Railway map. The 111-km long railway line passes through several tunnels and will also have a number of bridges owing to the hilly terrain it has to cover to reach the Imphal valley.

The chief minister expressed hope that the completion of the highway and railway projects will bring much-needed attention to the state from entrepreneurs. The state has been plagued by decades-long insurgency with a number of militant groups still active in the hills and also the valley.

Army and Assam Rifles officials, who spearhead anti-insurgency operations in the state, said though militancy is on the wane, extortion by many of these groups remain a problem. “Manipur is now a totally peaceful state,” the chief minister said.

Admitting that the problem of extortion remains, Singh said the issue will also be solved once successful deliberations are held with the insurgent groups, whom he has invited for talks. An Integrated Check Post (ICP) is being built at Moreh on the India-Myanmar border on NH-39, which is located about 110 km away from Imphal. Tamu is the corresponding town on the Myanmar side of the ICP, Moreh.

Though a Land Customs Station (LCS) exists at Moreh to handle trade, a sprawling new station is being built anticipating a surge in trade volume. Moreh, as a part of India’s ‘Look East’ and now ‘Act East’ policy, is the gateway not only to Myanmar but also for reaching Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

At the Moreh border, 45.58 acres of land is being developed by the Land Port Authority of India to facilitate trade and people movement, an official said. The facilities at the ICP would include customs and immigration, passenger terminal, warehouse for import and cargo building truck parking area. Transhipment of cargo would be done at the new land port at Moreh, the official said.

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