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India Secures Second Overseas Port: Sittwe Agreement Approved by MEA

In a strategic move to bolster its maritime presence and enhance regional connectivity, India has gained operational control over the Sittwe Port in Myanmar, following approval from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The agreement allows India Ports Global (IPGL), a company fully owned by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, to manage the entire port on the Kaladan River, marking India’s second overseas port acquisition after Chabahar in Iran.

Key Details of the Sittwe Port Agreement

  • Full Operational Control: Unlike the limited control over terminals in Chabahar, India now possesses complete operational authority over the Sittwe Port, positioning it strategically in the Indian Ocean rivalry with China.
  • Long-Term Lease: The deal includes a long-term lease arrangement, subject to renewal every three years, enabling India to undertake substantial development initiatives at the port.
  • IPGL’s Role: India Ports Global Limited, a subsidiary of Sagarmala Development Company Limited under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, will spearhead the port’s development and operations.

Sittwe Port Development and Significance for India

  • Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project: The port development is integral to the Kaladan project, aimed at enhancing connectivity between Sittwe in Myanmar and Mizoram in India, facilitated by waterways and road networks.
  • Connectivity to Northeastern States: The port’s development aligns with India’s strategy to uplift landlocked northeastern states by reducing transportation and logistic costs, thereby fostering economic growth and regional integration.
  • Connectivity to Mizoram and Tripura: The Kaladan project’s waterways and road networks will substantially improve connectivity to Mizoram and Tripura, furthering trade and commerce in the region.

Security Concerns and the Arakan Rebels Threat

  • Myanmar’s Internal Conflict: Amidst Myanmar’s civil unrest, particularly in the Rakhine state where Sittwe is situated, security concerns loom large due to ongoing conflicts between the Myanmar army and insurgent groups like the Arakan Army.
  • Potential Threat to Project: The escalating conflict poses a potential threat to the stability and continuity of the Sittwe project. If the rebels gain control over the Rakhine province, it could jeopardize the port’s operations and future prospects, highlighting the precarious geopolitical landscape in the region.

India Secures Second Overseas Port: Sittwe Agreement Approved by MEA_4.1