Bangkok: India’s 214-million-dollar infrastructure project in western Myanmar should have environmental impact studies before proceeding, environmental activists said Tuesday.
“We anticipate that this is going to become a major illegal route for wildlife trade,” said Kashmira Kakati, an Indian biologist who conducted a 2011 environmental impact study on part of the project.
The Kaladan project, financed by the Indian government, is a cornerstone of New Delhi’s “Look East policy,” aimed at establishing new trade links with South-East Asia and counter-balancing China’s rising clout in the region.
It includes construction of a deep-sea port at Sittwe in Rakhine state, a 160-kilometre canal from Sittwe to Paletwa in Chin state, and a 100-kilometre road from Paletwa to the border and into India’s Mizoram state.
The only environmental study was conducted in Mizoram.
“What we found was that the road was passing through a wildlife sanctuary, 4 to 5 kilometres of it,” Kakati said in Bangkok.
She said New Delhi has ignored the study’s conclusions.
Construction of the Sittwe port will be completed next year, but work has yet to be started on the canal and road components.
“As regards the proposed road from Paletwa to Indo-Myanmar border, the details are not yet finished and when they are finalized, necessary considerations from an environmental point of view will also be in place,” the Indian embassy in Bangkok said.
No environmental studies were required under the terms of agreement signed by Myanmar and India.
(This article was published on June 11, 2013)