By- Correspondent | Date- October 15, 2011
The much awaited and debated opening of the Stilwell Road took a new development yesterday with the Myanmar Government discussing possibilities of reopening the historical road with new arrangements.
The discussion took place yesterday during a meeting between the Minister of Border Affairs of Myanmar, Lt General Thien Htay and Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Paban Singh Ghatowar. It is reported that the Myanmar Government has shown keen interest in reopening this road, suggesting additional construction of a 130 Km road linking Pancha and Khamti connecting the historic Stilwell road.
The historic 1,739 km Stilwell road starts in Assam and links Kunming in Yunnan Province of South China through Pangsau Pass on India-Myanmar border. It was initially called the Ledo Road and was built during World War II so that the Western Allies could supply the Chinese as an alternative to the Burma Road which was cut by the Japanese forces in 1942. It was renamed the Stilwell Road after General Vinegar Joe Stilwell of the United States Army in early 1945 at the suggestion of Chiang Kai-shek. This historical road, built by 15,000 American soldiers and 35,000 local workers at a cost of USD 150 million, passes through Burma towns of Shingbwiyang, Myitkyina and Bhamo in Kachin state.
The North Eastern states of India, especially Assam and Arunachal have been long demanding to re-open the Stilwell road as it would be a great boost to the economy of the region, with trade flourishing with the rest of South Asia. However the Indian Government has long been showing reluctance to the idea, citing security concerns.
The Myanmar Government earlier was seen apprehensive about opening this road as well, concerned with the threat from its own rebels in Kachin. The Myanmar Army has of late resumed a strong attack on the rebel bases along the Indo-Myanmar border,
Mentionable that China has been showing considerable interest in development of the Stilwell road and upgradation of 1031 km of this historic road right up to Pangsau Pass, 61 km away from Ledo in Assam, is already on way.
India and Myanmar to increase co-operation
India and Myanmar has decided to strengthen the cooperation and coordination between the security forces of the two countries to collaboratively tackle insurgency, smuggling and drug trafficking. As such, the border management mechanism would also be strengthened and a meeting of the heads of Survey Department of both countries is being scheduled in November.
This was agreed during the high level visit of President of Myanmar, U Thein Sein to India along with a 67-member delegation. U Thein Sein had a meeting yesterday with the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. This was followed by a high level delegation talk in which 13 senior ministers of Myanmar took part. As regards the Indian counterparts, the meeting was joined by Home Minister P. Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister, S.M. Krishna, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Jaipal Reddy, Minister of Power, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma and Minister for Science and Technology Vilasrao Deshmukh. National Security Adviser of India, Shivshankar Menon was also part of the high level meeting