Myanmar keen to reopen Stilwell Road

NEW DELHI, Oct 15 – The long-pending proposal to reopen the Stilwell Road is back on tracks, with Myanmar evincing keen interest to reopen the historic road albeit on a new alignment.

The idea was broached by the visiting Minister of Border Affairs of Myanmar, Lt General Thien Htay, when he called on Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Paban Singh Ghatowar here this afternoon.

Myanmar has suggested construction of a 130 Km road linking Pancha and Khamti connecting the historic road. Myanmar has suggested a number of roads to India and have advocated a new alignment for the Stilwell Road, Ghatowar told newsmen, after an hour long meeting.

“We have told them that Government of India would consider the proposal after it is formally submitted,” the Minister DoNER said.

Despite pressure from North Eastern States of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to re-open the road dating back to the World War- II days, the Centre has been dragging its feet, as Myanmar was reluctant to reopen it citing security concerns.

The meeting touched on a number of issues of interest concerning both Myanmar and North-east. The two Ministers reviewed the progress of the Kaladan Multi-modal Project. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2014.

The joint statement issued at the end of the bilateral talks on Friday said President of Myanmar, U Thein Sein and Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh expressed satisfaction at the implementation of the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project, especially the port development and Inland waterways.

Meanwhile, a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the second Myanmar road connecting Rhi and Tiddim is ready, Ghatowar said.

India and Myanmar reiterated their commitment for an early implementation of the Rhi-Tiddim Road Development Project with grant assistance from India.

Ghatowar said they have stressed on enhancing people to people contact, development of border areas and trade. “We have also suggested that sports activities between the Region and Myanmar should be increased,” he said.