The idea of driving down to Bangkok in a car or bus from any northeastern state may become reality by 2017, with India signing a memorandum of understanding with Myanmar on opening four-lane motorways to promote trade and tourism from the northeastern states into that country, and on to Thailand, and eventually Cambodia and Vietnam as well.
Noting that the proposed trans-Asian highway was a very old project that had failed to take off so far, security sources said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was keen to operationalise a planned superhighway linking Guwahati to Bangkok via Mandalay and Yangon, Myanmar’s former capital.
The sources added that the external affairs ministry was also exploring the possibility of starting passenger bus services between Moreh in Manipur and Mandalay. New Delhi wants the bus service started as soon as possible.
The trans-Asian highway is part of the “Mekong-India Corridor” intended to link Indian markets with China, the sources said, saying the PM had told officials to convert the “Look East Policy” into “Action East Policy”.
The Northeast Frontier Railway was given a six-month deadline to commission tracks linking the border states to augment infrastructure development.
The new superhighway will open up new oil and gas opportunities off the coasts of Myanmar and Vietnam, and enable easier access to Japanese products made in Thailand, the security sources said. The trans-Asian highway will also be connected to NH2 to facilitate an opening direct from New Delhi to Southeast Asia. The many stumbling blocks to the project are being cleared on a priority basis, the sources added.