Kaladan Project Resumed in Chin State
03 November 2012: Preparation of work on the Indo-Burma multimillion dollar Kaladan project is underway since last Thursday after a break during the rainy season as a group of Indian engineers arrived in Paletwa town of Chin State on 31 October 2012.
The Indian engineers working on jetty construction on the east coast of Paletwa on Wednesday got back to the Chin town in southern parts of Burma’s northwestern state by ferry, accompanied by Burmese security officers from Kyauktaw town of Rakhine State, according to the Khumi Media Group.
“They [Indian engineers] brought two ground drilling machines when they arrived. On 1 November, the machines were taken to the jetty construction sites near Paletwa town,” said one of the Khumi Chin leaders from Paletwa Township.
Agreed in 2008 between both governments of India and Burma, the Kaladan Multi-Modal Development Project has seen its three-phase constructions initiated since 2010, with no impacts assessments conducted by Burma’s authorities till today.
Earlier this year, Thein Sein’s government said it would conduct social and environmental impacts assessments. However, no official information has been released on the assessment activities.
In an interview with Chinland Guardian, Isaac Khen, Executive Director of GDI (Gender and Development Initiative), said: “Lack of transparency and lack of adequate consultation with local communities are contributing factors for increasing fears and concerns among local communities.”
On 29 October, Burma’s minister for Border Affairs Lt. Gen. Thein Htay and India’s Ambassador to Burma Dr. Villur Sundararajan Seshadri made evaluations on the development project during their recent visit amids the ongoing violence in the areas.
Meeting with the Chin communities in Paletwa Township, Lt. Gen. Thein Htay said: “Paletwa would see development in transportation facilities like ports and roads as joint actions would be taken with Indian for Development of Kaladan Basin.”
The Arakan Rivers Network said it is anticipated that the transport system will remain fully owned by the Burmese state, but be primarily used by Indian companies to increase trade with Southeast Asia and link the land-locked Mizoram region to the sea.
“It is further expected that the Kaladan will be used far less by local citizens, since they will not be able to afford the tolls the Burmese government will impose on vessels using the waterway.”
It is reported that a completion date for the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project is postponed until December 2016 from its original plan to be finished by the end of 2014.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang