Bhutan’s King Visits India
- Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 1949: The Treaty provides for, among other things, perpetual peace and friendship, free trade and commerce and equal justice to each other’s citizens.
- Multilateral Partnership: Both of them share multilateral forums such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal), BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) etc.
- Hydropower Cooperation: This hydropower cooperation comes under the 2006 Agreement on Cooperation in Hydropower. Under a protocol to this agreement, India has agreed to assist Bhutan in the development of a minimum of 10,000 MW of hydropower and import of surplus electricity from the same by 2020.
- Bhutan’s Development Plans: The focus was primarily on Bhutanese’s Transformation Initiatives and Reforms Process, as well as India’s support for Bhutan’s development plans, including the 13th Five-Year Plan that starts next year, 2024.
- Power Tariff for Hydro-Electric Project: The Indian government has agreed to a long-pending demand from Bhutan to increase the power tariffs for the Chhukha hydroelectric project, which began operations with India’s help in 1986.
- Sankosh Hydel Project: The two sides will also try to expedite negotiations on the reservoir-based 2,500 MW Sankosh hydel project, which has been stuck for decades due to environmental and cost concerns.
- Integrated Check Post: India is also examining the possibility of setting up the first Integrated Check Post along the India-Bhutan border at Jaigaon and expediting the proposed Kokrajhar-Gelephu rail link project.
- Rail and Air Link: Bhutan is constructing its second international airport at Gelephu, near the border with India. The rail link project would help build the southern Bhutanese city into a hub for attracting international investment.
- The importance of environmental sustainability cannot be overstated in the context of Indo-Bhutan relations. Both India and Bhutan are blessed with abundant natural resources, and it is imperative that they work together to preserve and protect these resources for future generations.
- Therefore, it is crucial that India and Bhutan continue to prioritise environmental sustainability in their bilateral relations and work towards achieving their shared goals of promoting sustainable development and protecting natural resources.
Content contributed by- Jeffrey V