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Bhutan King unveils plans for economic linkages with Assam, Infra News, ET Infra

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Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on Sunday unveiled plans for a mega city project near the Indian border – the Gelephu Special Administration Region (SAR), spreading across 1,000 sq km. The project will link Bhutan economically with Assam to spur regional and sub-regional integration.

The SAR, positioned as an economic hub for South Asia, will leverage the connectivity between South Asia and Southeast Asia, according to officials in Bhutan.

The project, which has been in planning for several years, will have its own laws and systems, and will invite foreign direct investment and skilled workers from across the globe. Companies will be screened for quality investments. The SAR is expected to generate economic opportunities for both domestic and overseas Bhutanese.

During his recent 10-day visit to India, the King discussed the Gelephu project with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The project will be part of the Sarpang district special economic zone and will include an international airport at Gelephu.

India and Bhutan are also planning to put in place a 58-km rail link between Gelephu and Kokrajhar in Assam. The possibility of an 18-km rail link between Samtse in Bhutan and Banarhat in West Bengal is also being explored.

The Indian Railways has already completed the preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey for the Kokrajhar-Gelephu link, which will be built with Indian assistance.

India has also agreed to permit Bhutanese products to be transported from Haldibari in West Bengal to Chilahati in Bangladesh.

In order to strengthen trade infrastructure, India and Bhutan have agreed to upgrade the existing land customs station at Dadgiri in Assam into an integrated check post with India’s support, and to develop facilities at Gelephu on the Bhutanese side.

The two sides have further agreed to designate Darranga in Assam and Samdrup Jongkhar in Bhutan as the sites for immigration check posts to facilitate the entry and exit of third country nationals by the land route for enhancing connectivity and promoting tourism.

  • Published On Dec 18, 2023 at 08:11 AM IST

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