Is SASEC road project India’s answer to China’s OBOR?

New Delhi: India is pulling out all stops to expedite the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) road connectivity program in the backdrop of China’s ambitious “One Belt One Road” initiative aimed at connecting around 60 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.

As part of this strategy, India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) last week approved a Rs1,630 crore road project for upgradation and widening of the 65-km road stretch between Imphal in Manipur and Moreh in Myanmar. Once completed, the project being developed with Asian Development Bank’s loan assistance will not only help India connect with its neighbouring countries but will also play an important role in the Great Asian Highway.

The Asian Highway network is also referred to as the Great Asian Highway, and is a 141,000-km road network connecting 32 Asian countries being developed under the aegis of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

“The SASEC program focuses on road infrastructure to improve regional connectivity between Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India (BBIN). The Imphal-Moreh project corridor is also a part of Asian Highway 1 and will also strengthen India’s position at the global level as we are attempting to connect with our neighbours and fulfilling our commitments made at the international level,” said a senior Indian government official, requesting anonymity.

The seven-member SASEC formed in 2001 comprises India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and aims to increase economic growth by building cross-border connectivity.


The Asian Highway network starts from Tokyo in Japan and connects South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran to the border between Turkey and Bulgaria, west of Istanbul, where it joins with European route E80.

“Developing road connectivity with neighbours is one of the key agendas of the Modi government,” added the government official quoted above.

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