A senior Shipping Ministry official said that the change in the strategy has been triggered by the regular bickering between the Centre and West Bengal government, which is not very conducive for developing projects in Myanmar.
The Centre is the process of developing the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP), which aims to create a multimodal mode of transport for shipment of cargo from ports of India to Myanmar as well as the north-eastern part of India.
The idea is to create an alternative route to the North-East and break free of the Siliguri corridor, the official said.
The distance between Kolkata port and Sittwe port is 402 nautical miles and Visakhapatnam and Sittwe is 556 nautical miles.
The official pointed that already about 40,000 tonnes of rice are being shipped out of Visakhapatnam port for Mizoram and other states in the North-East.
The idea is to pump up the trade volumes with minimal obstacles. Plus, in the event of any local disturbances in places such as Nagaland, the whole of north-eastern India should not get affected.
KMTTP has been planned as a waterway trade route from Sittwe Port to Paletwa (158 km) along the Kaladan river in Myanmar and road route from Paletwa to India-Myanmar border, which is 110 km.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has been appointed as the Project Development Consultant by the Union Ministry of External Affairs.
The idea of developing the alternative route was conceived by the Manmohan Singh government by entering into a bilateral agreement with the Myanmar government in April 2008.
But the Modi Government has been pushing the project much more rigorously. In June 2016, India Ports Global Pvt Ltd (IPGPL) was asked to partner IWAI in the Kaladan project as a sub-Project Development Consultant. The Centre has already made over ₹476 crore investment in the project.