Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Around 80 officials and representatives from across the border visited the Pedestrian Terminal in Phuentsholing yesterday.  

They were invited by the Bhutanese authorities on a familiarisation tour of the pedestrian terminal before the opening of the international border gates across the southern borders on September 23.

The team included SSB’s deputy inspector general (sector headquarters, Jalpaiguri), Jaigaon customs’ assistant commissioner, TMC’s district presidents of Alipurduar district and Kalchini Block, Jaigaon Development Authority’s chairman, heads and representatives of the business association in Jaigaon, media, and social workers.

Representatives from Bhutan-India Friendship Association (Phuentsholing Chapter) from both Phuentsholing and across the border were also present.

An official from the Department of Law and Order (DLO) said that it was an act of familiarisation and sensitisation for people across the border.  

“They will understand the procedures at the terminal and pass and share the information to a larger audience across the border,” he said.

As it is nearing 30 months since the gate was closed on March 23, the invitees spoke highly of the terminal and the gate.

One of the invitees, Binay Nahata said that he was so delighted to step into Bhutan after two and half years.  “I am happy and excited to be in Phuentsholing and meet my old friends and neighbours,” he said, adding that he is looking forward to the same old bonding between the two peoples of the border towns.  

He said the pedestrian terminal is an international standard infrastructure that is seen in airports across the world. It is equipped with sophisticated and automatic equipment that a terminal should have.

“This shows how much the Bhutanese government has invested in welcoming the tourists and other non-nationals into Bhutan,” he added. “I believe the Bhutan government is ready to welcome foreigners.”

He further said the pedestrian terminal and the gate opening will help both the people of Phuentsholing and Jaigaon.

Thanking the Bhutanese government and the authorities, the Jaigaon merchant association’s general secretary, RS Gupta said, the pedestrian terminal is a beautiful and systemised infrastructure, which deserves appreciation.

“Our friends, including tourists, were always curious when the gate would open,” he said, adding that all the people in Jaigaon and the entire Duar areas are looking forward to September 23 opening.

  A familiarisation event at the pedestrian terminal in Phuentsholing

A familiarisation event at the pedestrian terminal in Phuentsholing

The DLO, Chukha dzongkhag administration, Phuentsholing drungkhag, police, and immigration coordinated the programme.

RS Gupta said that everything would fall into place after the gate opens on September 23 and the people from the two towns can interact as they used to.