India to test road to Thailand

Mandalay Palace. The highway will pass through the historic city of Mandalay in Upper Burma. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The trial run for the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) trilateral highway connecting south and southeast Asia is set to begin in December.

“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. We hope that the trial run for the IMT will commence in early December,” India’s Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chibber said during a visit to Kolkata.

He said the project was to use the 3,200km highway to integrate the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and more recently Afghanistan, with Asean.

“We want the huge economic blocs, the SAARC region and the ASEAN region, to get integrated through the IMT agreement.

“It has the blessings of three governments and also the Asian Development Bank, which is … providing us with the adequate resources for development of improved road infrastructure that would connect these two major blocs,” said Chhiber.

The highway from Moreh, the Indian border town in Manipur, will head to Mae Sot in Thailand via Mandalay and the capital Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar.

It would provide the first major land route linking the fast-growing Asian giants, India and China, and reestablish Myanmar as a major regional crossroads.

The Myanmar election on November 8 might disrupt proceedings as the fears of electoral fraud could lead to violence if the highly anticipated poll is seen as less than free and fair.

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