Biswajyoti Das, Reuters
Ledo, India: India has begun rebuilding a 1,700-km (1,000-mile) long road built during World War Two that passes through jungles and mountains and will link the northeast of the country with China via Myanmar.
The Stilwel Road was named after a U.S. general who supervised the construction of the road as a supply route to the Chinese army fighting Japanese occupation in World War Two.
The road has long since fallen into disuse, parts of it disappearing due to lack of maintenance.
People and goods, mainly tea and timber, from northeast India will be able to reach China in two days on the route joining the oil and tea-rich Assam state with western China’s Kunming city.
“It will boost the local economy, especially tourism,” said Bedanta Gogoi, a local entrepreneur in Dibrugarh, a busy commercial town near the town of Ledo, where the road starts in India.
China has already converted its own stretch of road into a six-lane highway for a distance of about 680 km (420 miles) from Kunming to Myanmar and also helped rebuild much of the road in Myanmar.
India had dragged its feet over rebuilding the road citing security reasons as it passes through thick forest where several rebel groups operate. It is also close to the “Golden Triangle”, one of the world’s major centres of illegal drug production.
Several families of former Indian soldiers, who had helped build the road more than 60 years back and had settled down by it, will lose their homes during its widening.