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India Accepts Situation in Myanmar Deteriorating

For the first time India has officially accepted that the situation in Myanmar is deteriorating.

On 12 April 2024, responding to a question by media in a briefing Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson of the ministry of External Affairs said, “You know, the security situation in Myanmar remains precarious and deteriorating. You heard about the fighting that is going on, specifically in Rakhine State and other areas. We had issued, some time back, an advisory for our nationals so that they can take due care and we want them to be safe; as also regarding Indians who are travelling to Myanmar so that they can observe proper safety protocols and take care of themselves, while we are there to take care of them, as in the Embassy is there to take care of them. We have also relocated our staff from Sittwe Consulate to Yangon”.

Elaborating on three citizens held in Myanmar, Mr Jaiswal said, “… our Embassy is seized of the matter. They are working on it and hopefully we will be able to get them out, repatriated and returned. They will come back home. In the past as well, as and when Indian nationals who have had problems in Myanmar, one way or the other, in one profession or the other, whenever they have reached out to the Embassy, we have acted proactively and we have got the help of local authorities and done our best so that our nationals can come back home; or their issue, whatever issue or problem that they have, is resolved. So that is where we are. We will keep you updated on the matter”.

Jaiswal also confirmed that India has evacuated the consulate in Sittwe. “we have relocated our staff to Yangon because the situation in Sittwe is precarious. As far as Mandalay is concerned, our Consulate is fully functional, I would say. There's absolutely no issue there. It remains open. It remains fully functional,” he said.

One of the important concerns of India is continuity of the Kaladan Project.

Ensuring Continuity of Kaladan Project in Myanmar

Given that the Arakan Army has been able to make major inroads in the Rakhine State as well as parts of Chin State, there are concerns in India over security of the Kaladan project and its completion.

In an unusual initiative, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Indian state of Mizoram, Pu K. Vanlalvena, met with officials from the Arakan Army (AA) and discussed the building of a 110 km long four-lane highway between Zorampu, a village in Myanmar on the border with India, to Paletwa Township in Chin State. The road is part of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP).

The project is designed to connect the landlocked states of northeastern India with the rest of India. Currently, the only way to transport goods from those states to the rest of India is to take them through a narrow strip of Indian territory north of Bangladesh and south of Bhutan, known as the Chicken’s Neck. 

The KMMTTP will provide an alternative, shorter route that will be cheaper and quicker to use. From the Myanmar side of the Indian border at Zorampu, goods will go along the highway to Paletwa Port by truck.  They will then be transferred onto boats and taken down the Kaladan River to a port at the mouth of the Kaladan River in Sittwe, Rakhine State, before being taken by sea to the Indian port of Kolkata, 539km away.  India has invested US$ 484 million into the project which was started 13 years ago and has missed many deadlines since.

So far, in Myanmar, the building of the river port at Paletwa, the dredging of the Kaladan River so that it can take bigger cargo ships and the construction of the port at the mouth of the Kaladan River in Sittwe have been completed, but the road between Zorampu to Paletwa still needs to be built.

Construction of the road was suspended in 2020, but it restarted in early 2023 and as recently as June 2023 the military led Federal Economy and Commerce Minister U Aung Naing Oo said that the road was under construction and that completion of the KMMTTP would not be affected by fighting in Rakhine State. 


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