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Go Bangkok by Road now: India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project Nearing Completion

Go Bangkok by Road now: India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project Nearing Completion

Written by Rajan Das

The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway project is an ambitious infrastructure initiative that aims to connect Kolkata in India to Bangkok in Thailand through a seamless road network. This project holds great significance as it not only enhances connectivity between the three countries but also promotes economic integration, tourism, and cultural exchanges. Spanning over 1,400 miles, the highway passes through diverse landscapes, from the bustling cities of Kolkata and Bangkok to the picturesque landscapes of Myanmar.

In this Article, we will explore the features, benefits, and challenges of the Kolkata to Bangkok road journey via the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway project.

India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway: An Overview

The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway project is a major regional infrastructure initiative aimed at bolstering connectivity and trade among India, Myanmar, and Thailand. It involves the construction and improvement of roadways to create a seamless transportation corridor.

The highway begins in Kolkata, India, and passes through the Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram, entering Myanmar at the Moreh-Tamu border. From there, it extends through Mandalay and Yangon in Myanmar, and finally reaches its endpoint in Bangkok, Thailand.

What is the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project?

The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project is a part of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), a regional organization comprising seven member countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia. The project was first proposed by former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and approved at a ministerial meeting of India, Myanmar and Thailand in April 2002.

The project aims to construct a four-lane highway connecting Moreh in Manipur, India to Mae Sot in Tak Province, Thailand via Myanmar. The highway will pass through major cities and towns such as Imphal, Mandalay, Naypyidaw, Bago and Myawaddy. The project is expected to be completed by 2027, with most of the work on the Indian and Thai portions already done.

The main challenge lies in completing the segments in Myanmar, where some sections are undergoing upgradation and some are facing land acquisition and security issues. India is actively involved in assisting Myanmar with the construction of two crucial sections of the highway: Kalewa-Yagyi (120.74 km) and Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa (149.70 km), along with 69 bridges. India is providing substantial grant assistance to Myanmar for these projects.

Significance and Benefits of the Trilateral Highway

The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway holds immense strategic and economic significance for the participating countries. It promotes cross-border trade, tourism, and cultural exchanges, fostering greater regional integration. The improved connectivity offers numerous benefits, including:

  1. Boosting Trade: The highway facilitates the movement of goods and services, reducing transportation costs and promoting bilateral trade among India, Myanmar, and Thailand. The highway will enable easier access to markets and resources for businesses and consumers in the region. It will also support the implementation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area, which aims to eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers among the member countries.
  2. Enhancing Tourism: The improved road network opens up new avenues for tourism, allowing travelers to explore diverse landscapes, historical sites, and cultural attractions in the three countries. The highway will also promote people-to-people contact and cultural exchange among the diverse communities in the region.
  3. Strengthening Diplomatic Ties: The project strengthens diplomatic relations and people-to-people contacts, fostering cooperation and understanding among the participating nations.
  4. Enhanced connectivity: The highway will provide seamless connectivity between India and Southeast Asia, facilitating movement of people, goods and services across borders. The highway will also link up with other regional corridors such as the Asian Highway Network and the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Corridor.
  5. Strengthened cooperation: The highway will foster greater cooperation among the participating countries on various sectors such as infrastructure, energy, agriculture, fisheries, education, health and environment. It will also enhance regional integration under BIMSTEC and other platforms such as ACMECS.

Route Highlights: From Kolkata to Myanmar

The journey on the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway begins in Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, India. From there, the highway passes through the Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram, showcasing the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of the northeastern region. Travelers can explore the serene landscapes, picturesque tea gardens, and vibrant local markets along the route.

Upon reaching the Moreh-Tamu border, the highway enters Myanmar, presenting a contrasting blend of ancient traditions and modern developments. Travelers can immerse themselves in the cultural heritage of Myanmar by visiting iconic landmarks such as the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and the ancient city of Bagan, known for its thousands of temples.

Myanmar to Thailand: A Journey through Diversity

As the highway continues through Myanmar, it traverses diverse terrains, including the fertile plains of Mandalay and the mountainous regions of Shan State. Travelers can witness the beauty of Inle Lake, known for its floating villages and unique leg-rowing fishermen.

After crossing the Myanmar-Thailand border at Mae Sot, the highway enters Thailand, offering a glimpse of Thai culture, history, and hospitality. From the historical city of Sukhothai to the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, travelers can explore the vibrant markets, ornate temples, and indulge in the renowned Thai cuisine.

Challenges and Future Prospects

While the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway project holds immense promise, it is not without its challenges. The road construction requires careful coordination between multiple stakeholders, addressing logistical, financial, and administrative hurdles. The diverse geographical and political landscapes of the participating countries add further complexity to the project.

However, the long-term benefits and potential for economic growth make the project highly worthwhile. The completion of the Trilateral Highway will enhance regional connectivity, boost trade and tourism, and strengthen diplomatic ties among India, Myanmar, and Thailand.

The completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project is not the end goal, but rather a stepping stone for further connectivity and integration in the region. India has proposed extending the highway further to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam along the East-West Corridor of ACMECS, which covers a vast 3200-kilometer network. This would create a comprehensive infrastructure network that would link South Asia with Southeast Asia and beyond.

The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project is a visionary project that has the potential to transform regional connectivity and cooperation. It is a testament to the strong partnership among India, Myanmar and Thailand, as well as their commitment to regional development. It is also an opportunity for travelers to explore new destinations and experiences along this scenic route.

“Project is about 70% complete,”: Gadkari.

According to Gadkari, “Roughly 70% of the project’s work is complete.”

It will likely take three to four years to finish building the entire route that connects these three amazing nations.

When finished, you’ll be able to drive from Kolkata to Bangkok. India has additional ambitions to extend the trilateral highway to other countries like Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand: “99% complete from Thailand’s side.

The four-lane motorway that will be headquartered in Thailand is already 99% complete, according to Thailand’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vijavat Isarabhakdi. How quickly the project may be finished now largely rests on the governments of India and Myanmar.

By enabling the efficient flow of products and services, this highway will not only make travel simpler but will also foster economic growth.

Conclusion

The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway project is a significant infrastructure initiative that aims to connect Kolkata in India to Bangkok in Thailand via a well-connected road network. This ambitious project not only promotes trade and tourism but also fosters cultural exchanges and diplomatic ties among the three countries.

The road journey from Kolkata to Bangkok offers travelers a diverse and enriching experience, with highlights including vibrant cities, breathtaking landscapes, and historical landmarks. Despite challenges, the completion of the Trilateral Highway holds immense potential for regional integration and economic growth, further enhancing the connectivity and cooperation among India, Myanmar, and Thailand.

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