Fourth Bhutan-India development cooperation talks tomorrow

Diplomacy: The Fourth Bhutan-India development cooperation talks of the 11th Plan will be held in New Delhi, India on September 2, according to a foreign affairs press release.

A 12-member Bhutanese delegation led by foreign secretary, Tshering Dorji, will meet with their Indian counterparts, led by the external affairs secretary for economic relations and development partnership, Sujatha Mehta.

The two sides will review the overall progress of Project Tied Assistance (PTA) and Small Development Projects (SDP), fund disbursement status for the 11th Plan, re-prioritisation of PTA projects and release of funds, it is pointed out in the press release.

During the third cooperation talks held in Thimphu in September, last year, 85 projects worth Nu 27.6 billion were approved.

The Government of India approved a total of 182 SDPs worth Nu 2.4 billion in the third Bhutan-India SDP committee meeting, last week.

SDPs are short gestation and community oriented projects, mainly for rural areas, like drinking water schemes, irrigation channels, farm roads, blacktopping farm roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, according to information on the Indian embassy in Thimphu website. These projects are planned and carried out by local governments.

Around 1,800 SDPs were completed in the 10th Plan.

Another 46 projects in the first SDP batch worth Nu 1.4 billion are expected to be completed by mid-2016 and another 257 of the second batch, worth Nu 3.1 billion, by mid-2017.

Under PTA, Nu 20 billion was committed in the 10th Plan. Around 71 projects were undertaken in areas such as agriculture, ICT, media, health, tertiary education, scholarships, labour and human resource development, roads, energy, civil aviation, urban development, road safety and transport, judiciary, culture, constitutional offices and the media.

The projects are carried out by the Royal Government, except for two road projects, the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway II and Damchu-Chukha bypass which are being executed by Project DANTAK.

While in New Delhi, the foreign secretary, Tshering Dorji will also call on the external affairs minister, (Dr) S Jaishankar, the foreign secretary and other external affairs officials.

This is foreign secretary Tshering Dorji’s first official visit abroad after assuming the post in May.

Gyalsten K Dorji

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