03/27/2024, 20.54
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India to spend US$ 3.7 billion to build a fence to stop Myanmar refugees

Plans for the structure were announced earlier this year, but a government committee has now approved its budget. The project includes a series of parallel and feeder roads to connect some of India's main military bases to the border. The government fears that the influx of refugees could destabilise the local inter-ethnic balance.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – India plans to spend almost US$ 3.7 billion to build a fence along the border with Myanmar within a decade.

The Indian government made then announcement in January, and the plan is now taking shape after a government committee approved the project’s budget, which now needs only the green light from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.

The fence, which will run along the 1,610 km border, is designed to curb various illegal activities, including people fleeing Myanmar’s civil conflict. In fact, the fence marks the end of free movement between India and Myanmar.

Since Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup in February 2021, thousands of people have fled the fighting and sought refuge abroad.

Communities on both sides of the India-Myanmar border often share ethnic ties, but Delhi fears that a further influx of refugees could destabilise interethnic balance within India's northeastern states.

Last year for example, violence broke out between ethnic Kuki and Meitei in the state of Manipur, and the situation is far from being pacified. Local authorities blame the violence on the porous border that allows migrants from Myanmar to enter India.

The government committee that approved spending for fence construction also agreed to build a series of parallel and feeder roads connecting some of India's main military bases to the border, a source told Reuters.

Due to the hilly terrain and the use of advanced technology, the fence and roads will cost nearly 125 million rupees (US$ 1.5 million) per kilometre, an anonymous source said.

This is a very expensive, considering that the fence built on the border with Bangladesh in 2020 cost 55 million rupees per kilometre.

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