Gelephu Smart City Project to Boost Foreign Investments in Bhutan, Strengthen Regional Connectivity
17 December 2023
Bhutan will build the Gelephu Smart City Project in the Gelephu Special Administrative Region (SAR) to facilitate more foreign investment for Bhutan. The project will be developed in a mega international city covering more than 1,000 square kilometers near Bhutan’s border with India. The project was announced by His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in Thimpu, Bhutan, on 17 December 2023 during his 116th National Day Address .
King Wangchuk emphasized that South Asia is experiencing an unprecedented economic transformation. The project will be an economic corridor connecting South Asia with Southeast Asia via India’s northeastern region.
His address remarked on the purpose of establishing the SAR and underscored its unique value proposition: to create a vibrant economic hub that will provide a conducive business environment with compelling incentives, but one that will be anchored on the vision and values of the country’s Gross National Happiness. The hub will be a Mindfulness City that will encompass conscious and sustainable businesses, inspired by Buddhist spiritual heritage, and distinguished by the uniqueness of the Bhutanese identity. Companies will be screened to ensure sensitivity to Bhutanese culture and traditions, respect for Bhutanese identity, and understanding of Bhutan’s values. Businesses will be based on invitation, and those that will be selected will be ones most beneficial for the country and people.
He highlighted three immediate priority areas that will support the Gelephu project: Energy, Connectivity, and Skills. To enhance the installed capacity of the country’s hydropower, construction of projects such as Kholongchu, Chamkharchu, Dorjilung, Nyera Amari, Wangchu, Bunakha and Sunkosh, will be fast-tracked. To boost connectivity in the region,which is critical for landlocked Bhutan, the project will build an international airport at Gelephu and develop a rail link between India and Bhutan. India gave the nod on a Bhutan-India railway during King Wangchuck’s visit to the country in 2023.