Energy Cooperation, Connectivity Expansion Highlighted during His Majesty the King of Bhutan’s Visit to India  

10 November 2023

The King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, paid an official visit to India on 3-10 November 2023, accompanied by senior officials from the Government of Bhutan. The visit is a testament to the long-standing and exceptional bilateral ties enjoyed by the two nations. The King traveled to New Delhi, Assam, and Maharashtra.  

In a meeting held with the India Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, they discussed the vast range of bilateral cooperation and regional and global issues of mutual interest. They assessed their expanding partnership including new areas of connectivity, such as cross-border trade infrastructure, trade and mutual investments, and energy, as well as health, education, skill development, space technology, and environment conservation, and close people-to-people contacts.  


Energy cooperation 

The meeting emphasized bilateral cooperation on energy and hydropower, which is an important pillar of India-Bhutan bilateral economic partnership. Both sides welcomed the export of surplus power by the Basochhu hydropower project through the Indian Energy Exchange beginning October 2023, paving the way for access to another energy market. They also expressed satisfaction with the progress in construction of the 1020 MW Punatshangchhu-II hydropower project and looked forward to its early commissioning in 2024. They noted the progress made towards speedy conclusion of the Punatsangchhu-I hydropower project. They also reiterated the importance of cooperation in the hydropower sector, and committed to advance it further. 
Furthermore, they agreed to extend the existing Bhutan-India energy partnership in hydropower to non-hydro renewables, including solar power and green initiatives for hydrogen and e-mobility. India assured Bhutan that it will provide the necessary technical and financial support for projects in these areas.  


Visit to Assam 

His Majesty the King’s visit to Assam covered a wide range of issues, including rail connectivity, cross-border trade infrastructure, economic cooperation, and tourism. To further expand bilateral cooperation, various agreements were made, including the following: 
(i) To undertake the Final Location Survey (FLS), in consultation with Bhutan, on the proposed cross-border rail link connecting Kokrajhar in Assam to Gelephu in Bhutan through GoI support. The two sides noted successful completion of the Preliminary Engineering-cum-Traffic (PET) survey of the rail-link by Indian Railways. The two sides also agreed to consider establishing a rail-link between Banarhat (West Bengal, India) and Samtse (Bhutan). 
(ii) To designate Darranga (Assam)/Samdrup Jongkhar (Bhutan) as immigration check post between Bhutan and India to facilitate the entry and exit of third country nationals by land route for enhancing connectivity, and promoting tourism. 
(iii) To designate Haldibari (West Bengal) - Chilahati (Bangladesh) rail route as an additional trade route for Bhutan’s trade with Bangladesh. 
(iv) India to provide bridge financing for the period between 12th and 13th Five Year Plans of Bhutan for projects and schemes with Government of India assistance. 
(v) To strengthen trade infrastructure, including by suitable upgradation of the existing Land Customs station at Dadgiri (Assam, India) to Integrated Check Post through Government of India support along with development of facilities on the Bhutanese side at Gelephu (Bhutan). 


Related links 

Joint Statement on the visit of His Majesty, The King of Bhutan to India (November 03-10, 2023)  

India, Bhutan agree on new initiatives to bolster trade, connectivity 

Press release 

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