The Promise of Asphalt
Reportage commissioned by Le Monde, being continued as a personal project
A mammoth construction project in the form of the National Highway 502A is poised to connect the seven landlocked, isolated, and often neglected states of North-East [NE] India to the mainland and greater SE Asia. Once completed, the ambitious Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Network, of which this road is a part, will reduce distance between the ports of Calcutta in India and Sittwee in Burma by approximately 1300 km. The project aims to improve connectivity with NE and reduce the need to transport goods through the narrow land-corridor at Siliguri, known infamously as the 'Chicken’s Neck.' However, the project may ultimately end up distancing the North-East further from India, as the people of the region share more similarities with their SE Asian neighbours than with the mainland. The Promise of Asphalt is an ongoing long-term essay documenting the trade gateway and the eventual socio-economic, geo-political and ecological impact of the proposed corridor.