India Secures the Overseas Port of Sittwe : Another Feather in India’s Maritime Reach in the IOR

 By Dr Shushant VC Parashar
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Recently, India secured the authority to manage its second international harbour in Sittwe, Myanmar[1]. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has given the green light to a proposal for India Ports Global (IPGL) to manage the entire harbour perched on the Kaladan River[2]. The company was earlier tasked with developing the Chabahar Port in Iran.

The IPGL, a testament to India’s growing focus on international collaboration, is a joint venture between the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the Deendayal Port Trust (formerly known as the Kandla Port Trust[3])[4]. It came into existence in 2015 as the directives of the Ministry of Shipping (MoS), with a focus on extending harbour facilities overseas. The IPGL’s remit has now been significantly increased with this present contract over its earlier commitment to equipping and overseeing two container/multi-purpose terminals at the Chabahar Port, thus, demonstrating the importance of international partnerships in India’s maritime strategy[5].

The Sittwe Port is an integral component of the more extensive Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Network, which India is developing alongside Myanmar. The overarching goal of this multi-modal network is to connect Eastern and North-Eastern parts of India via Myanmar[6]. This strategic integration will act as an alternative conduit for transporting goods and services to the Northeastern states of India by significantly curtailing the costs and distances traversed. Furthermore, it will alleviate reliance on the Siliguri Corridor, commonly known as the “Chicken’s Neck”, and Bangladesh. This development holds promising economic benefits for the region, instilling hope for a prosperous future.

The Sittwe Port, a strategic masterpiece initiated and built by India, sits at the mouth of the Kaladan River on the Arakan coast of Myanmar’s Rakhine state. In the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), a dynamic dance of influence unfolds between India and China,[7] and ports will emerge as critical players in this strategic tussle. Beyond serving as mere trade conduits, these ports wield significant power, and the Sittwe Port will play a pivotal role in amplifying India’s reach and sway across the IOR.

[1] Bhattacharjee, Subhomoy. (2024, 07 April). India secures second overseas port. Sittwe agreement approved by MEA. Business Standard. Accessed on: 10/04/2024. Accessed from: https://www.business-standard.com/economy/news/india-secures-second-overseas-port-sittwe-agreement-approved-by-mea-124040700550_1.html.

[2] Sidharth, Rachayita. (2024, 09 April). India expands maritime reach: Secures another oversea port, after Chabhar, in Myanmar. Logistics Insider. Accessed on: 10/04/2024. Accessed from: https://www.logisticsinsider.in/india-expands-maritime-reach-secures-another-overseas-port-after-chabahar-in-myanmar/.

[3] PIB. (2017, 26 September). Kandla Port renamed as Deendayal Port. PIB. Accessed on: 10/04/2024. Accessed from: https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=171120.

[4] Balakrishnan, GR. (2024, 09 April). India secures second overseas port: Sittwe agreement approved by MEA. Sagar Sandesh. Accessed on: 10/04/2024. Accessed from: https://www.sagarsandesh.in/news/32991.

[5] IPGL. (n.a). India Ports Global Limited. IPGL. Accessed on: 10/04/2024. Accessed from: http://www.ipgl.co.in/WriteReadData/T45218/1617335720.pdf.

[6] PIB. (2023, 05 May). Inaugration of Sittwe Port in Myanmar marks the beginning of a new transformation of transportation in Northeast. PIB. Accessed on: 10/04/2024. Accessed from: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1922176.

[7] Jacob, Jabin T. (2024, 14 March). China and India’s intense contest for influence. The Diplomat. Accessed on: 10/04/2024. Accessed from: https://thediplomat.com/2024/03/china-and-indias-intense-contest-for-influence/.