By : Pradeep Pareek
Dimapur(Nagaland): May 6: Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio has welcomed the Free Movement Regime (FMR) that will facilitate free movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens within 16 km along the Myanmar border. He, however, said there is a need to take up improvement of road infrastructure in the areas.
Nagaland shares around 215 kms of border with Myanmar and people on both sides share the same culture and languages. The FMR will facilitate travel across the two countries.
Speaking at the interactive session on ‘Act East Policy’ chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday at New Delhi, Rio said that while security issues are important, especially with regard to presence of NSCN-K on the Myanmar side, the Government needs to ensure that ordinary villagers are not inconvenienced.
Rio said while India has made considerable progress in implementing the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multimodel Project, issues related to increasing maritime and air connectivity between ASEAN countries and India and transforming the corridors of connectivity into economic corridors need to be fast-forwarded.
A possible extension to India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway to Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam is also under consideration, he said.
Referring to the consensus reached on finalizing the proposed protocol of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA), Rio opined that this agreement will play a critical role in realizing seamless movement of passengers, personal and cargo vehicles along roads linking India, Myanmar and Thailand.
On connectivity, Rio said it is important that the survey is done in a way that the roads cover the villages and habitations as roads are meant to serve people. The most important road connecting India and Myanmar is NH 29 connecting Dimapur with Kohima and Imphal and onwards to Moreh. While 4 laning of Dimapur-Kohima is under progress and Imphal-Moreh has been approved, there is a need to ensure that Kohima-Imphal 4 laning is also taken up, he said.
During the interactive session, Sushma Swaraj laid down the detailed agenda for engaging with the key stakeholders – people of the North Eastern Region for the Act East Policy with the objective of enhancing political security cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio cultural cooperation.
Dr Rajiv Kumar, vice chairman, Niti Aayog and Gen (Dr) VK Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs, Foreign Secretary, Secretary (East) from the Ministry of External Affairs as well as secretaries from the Ministry of DoNER and North Eastern Council along with officials from Civil Aviation, Ministry of Home, Road Transport & Highways took part in the discussions.