Roads not only connect different points on a map but also open the way for trade and commerce between nations. Trade routes have helped civilisations build history and are shaping the future of nations. Since the earliest known time of its existence, trade routes facilitated cultural exchange and facilitated circumstances conducive to trade and commerce.
India has been one of the most important trade destinations in history, and has approximately 4.63 kilometers of roads per 1,000 people to allow the same. However, the economy in modern world and India demand more than just connectivity, they demand advanced standards and safety. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) appointed its autonomous highway wing, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), to change roads and highways infrastructure in the country and improve trade relations within it and with its neighbours.
The NHAI, under the leadership and supervision of its leaders, such as Akhilesh Srivastava and Deepak Kumar, launched and implemented various projects for the modernisation and digitalisation of the public sector.
The NHAI’s project include, but are not limited to, Wayside Amenities (WSAs), Electronic Toll Collection (ETC), a highway-utility mobile application called Sukhad Yatra, Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), industrial drones and remote sensing equipment, GPS tolling, green highways, and solar farms. Some of these projects are already functional and few are in their final phase of completion.
The autonomous highway wing is also spreading its wings globally with a 1,360 km India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMTTH) project in collaboration with ASEAN member-nations. Under India’s Look-East policy, the Trilateral project will introduce new, cost-effective trade routes between India and other ASEAN countries and the rest of South-East Asia.
The Trilateral highway starts from the region of Moreh in India, flow through Myanmar, and ends in the region of Mae Sot in Thailand. Further, under this project, the NHAI has proposed the construction of 69 bridges on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa road section (nearly 150 km) and Kalewa-Yargi road section (over 120 km) in Myanmar.
This Trilateral project will improve road connectivity with South-East Asian countries. As of now, the construction of the 130-km road connecting Moreh and Tamu in India to Kalewa in Myanmar is completed. Along with this, several stretches on the Thailand-Myanmar side of the project have also been completed. The nations involved are planning to extend the project further to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
The Trilateral project will elevate the GDP rate of India with a projection of USD 70 billion, and will increase employment, with 20 million by 2025 for the nations involved. The NHAI’s Trilateral project will counterbalance the impact of One Belt One Road (OBOR) on Asia.
To expound the project, India hosted the ASEAN-India Connectivity Summit based on the theme – Powering Digital & Physical Linkages for Asia in the 21st Century. Key stakeholders including international delegates, prominent personalities, government officials, industry tycoons, and representatives of trade associations and entrepreneurs attended the event.
At this event, the CGM of NHAI’s highway operations division, Akhilesh Srivastava, delivered a keynote speech emphasising the Trilateral Highway project, stated that the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under the Ministry of Defence had already finished constructing 600 km of roads and was expanding. Further, the CGM articulated the NHAI’s agenda to propel ASEAN-India connectivity.
Attending the commemorative event, the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) & India Connectivity Summit, Mr Srivastava stated that the NHAI was moving towards accelerating digital and physical linkages between ASEAN member-nations and India.
Eliminating all setbacks, the NHAI’s Trilateral project will strengthen the infrastructural, economic, financial, and trade relationships between ASEAN members and India.