Group Raises Awareness on Transnational Development Project
17 September 2011: A local rights group in Mizoram, India on Thursday organized an event to raise local awareness about the possible social and environmental consequences of the multi-million dollar development project being implemented by India and Burma.
The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project is a joint project between the two Asian countries that seeks to connect the Indian port of Kolkota to landlocked northeast India through Burma’s Arakan and Chin State.
At an estimated cost of more than 134 million US dollars, the project will be the biggest Indian investment yet in Burma. Started in late 2010, the project is set for completion by the end of 2013.
The ‘Consultation on Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project’ was organized by the Zo Indigenous Forum – a locally registered rights group concerned with the rights of indigenous people – in Mizoram’s capital Aizawl on Thursday.
It featured keynote remarks by Pu C. Ramhluna, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Mizoram from the opposition Mizo National Front party. He represents a constituency in the Lai Autonomous District that will be affected by the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project.
Also present were leading members of the ruling Mizoram Pradesh Congress Party and other local activists who participated in the plenary discussion on pros and cons of the project.
Drawing from examples from other places in India where development projects have resulted in serious negative consequences for local livelihood and the environment, the legislator said that any development project should be geared towards benefit for the people.
“It should be done in a way that is beneficial for both government and the people,” he said.
Around 14 villages with a population of over 5,000 people are estimated to be directly affected by the Kaladan Project on the Mizoram side of the border.
According to the 2008 Framework Agreement between India and Burma, India will provide all the money needed for the project, while Burma will give the land required for the project ‘free of charge’, as well as provide security for the project.
On the Burma side, the project involves the expansion of the Sittwe seaport in Arakan State, the dredging of Kaladan River, as well as the construction of an inland water terminal and highway in Chin State’s Paletwa Township up to the Mizoram-Chin State border.