India donates rice silos to Myanmar (Lead)

June 21st, 2011 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Yangon, June 21 (IANS) As India made its first official contact with the new civilian government in Myanmar, visiting External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Tuesday dedicated 10 disaster-proof rice silos to ensure people have enough to eat during cyclones and floods.

Krishna, on the second day of a three-day visit, inaugurated here the 5,000 tonnage storage capacity silos India funded with a $2-million grant in the presence of Myanmarese Commerce Minister Win Myint. The silos are capable of withstanding wind speeds of 150 km per hour and are earthquake-resistant. For flood prevention, the silos are built on plinths two metres from the ground.

The need for the silos was felt by Myanmar after the devastating 2008 Nargis cyclone hit the Myanmar coast, rendering several thousands homeless and without food for weeks.

“One of the lessons learnt from the catastrophe was the need to have strong and weather-proof rice warehouses located at strategic positions in cyclone prone areas to enable speedy distribution of foodgrain in times of need,” Krishna said in his address at the event.

Of the 10 silos constructed in a year ending February, four are in Yangon region and seven in Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) region.

“It is a matter of pride and satisfaction for me that the Indian government has been associated with such a worthwhile project, which will directly benefit the people of Myanmar. This project is truly symbolic of the close and friendly ties between the government and the people of India and Myanmar,” Krishna said.

Thanking the Indian government, Win Myint expressed Myanmar’s “gratitude for the generosity”. He also said that the two countries were existing with a sense of “peace, co-existence and cooperation” and this extended to the areas of education and economic development.

On Monday evening, Krishna visited a 2,600-year-old Shwedagon pagoda, a Buddhist pilgrimage centre in Yangon.

“It is a great honour for me that the very beginning of my visit (to Myanmar) is to pay homage at this historic, sacred and inspiring shrine. I am struck by the dignity and splendour of the pagoda as well as the atmosphere of peace, tranquility and spirituality,” Krishna wrote in the visitors book.

“This visit will remain an inspiration and a source of spiritual strength and sustenance for me. I pray that this symbol of Buddhism and the abiding common values of the people of India and Myanmar will guide our relations for ever,” he added.

Krishna also paid homage to India’s last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, who died in Yangon in 1862 at the age of 87 after being exiled from Delhi.
Because of its strategic location as a bridge to the ASEAN region, India attaches great significance to ties with Myanmar and has welcomed the formation of the civilian government here. China has a strong presence here and recently rolled out the red carpet for Myanamar President Thein Sein and offered loans and credits worth more than $765 million.
Since India cannot match China’s economic diplomacy, it engages in public diplomacy with capacity-building and skill development that connects with the common Myanmarese. India is also talking about better connectivity with the northeast to encourage cross-border trade and better security cooperation against cross-border insurgents.

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