Local residents have no knowledge about Kaladan Project: U Pu Zozam

Sittwe: Local residents living along the Kaladan River in western Burma’s Chin and Arakan states have little or no knowledge about the Indian-backed Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project, said U Pu Zozam, the president of the Chin National Party.

U Pu Zozam led a study-team, and had done field-research on the project travelling along the Kaladan River between Sittwe in Arakan State and Paletwa in Chin State on the Indian border from the 5th to the 8th of February.

He told Narinjara after coming back from his 4-day research tour that the local residents are still not informed of what they should know about the project in their region.

I have found out that the local residents do not know yet such a big infrastructure project is under construction in their area. As such they do not know what the effects on them by the project will be, and they even do not know who are doing what in their respective regions relating to the project”, he said.

Most of peoples living along the Kaladan River are farmers and fishers earning their livelihoods depending on the river.

U Pu Zozam said the cultivations in a number of townships along the river in Arakan State will suffer from inundations if the river is dredged for the project.

“We have found out that the paddy fields in low-lying areas in Sittwe and Ponnagyun Townships will suffer from flooding with sea-water if the river is to be dredged for the project. There are so many villages living on cultivations that depend on the river at the upper river areas, and those cultivations will also be hurt after dredging the river”, said U Pu Zozam.

He said his team had especially studied the local peoples’ knowledge about the project and how the project will impact their livelihoods, adding that it will publicize what it has found out after thorough analysis to the concerned authorities and general people.

India’s Essar Company is now constructing $ 120 million Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project jointly with the Max (Myanmar) Company. The project consists of upgrading the port in Sittwe for accessing 6,000 ton cargo vessels, dredging the river route to Paletwa, and a 200 km road from Paletwa to Mizoram State in India.

The project was proposed by the Indian government under a framework agreement with the Burmese military regime in 2008 and will be finalized in 2013. It is said to be designed to increase the bilateral trade between both countries and to give a new trade route to the land-locked northeastern states in India.