The electricity export tariff for Mangdechhu hydropower project, which is expected to complete latest by November this year, would be set before the commission of the plant, the Indian government assured Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday in New Delhi, India.
The inauguration of the 720-mega watt project is planned as one of the major events of the 50th anniversary celebrations of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The two sides also discussed cooperation in new hydropower projects in Bhutan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated India’s commitment to Bhutan’s socio-economic development and assured full support for Bhutan’s 12th Five Year Plan, which will commence later this year after the election of the new government.
GoI funded Nu 45 billion (B) in the 11th Plan and another Nu 5B for the economic stimulus plan (ESP).
Bhutan government expressed appreciation for India’s generous support in the 11th Plan and for its assurance of continued support in the 12th Plan for promoting socio-economic development in Bhutan.
The two sides recognised the importance of continued hydropower cooperation between India and Bhutan for mutual benefit and expressed satisfaction on the ongoing hydropower projects.
The leaders expressed satisfaction with the activities of the 50th anniversary celebrations of diplomatic relations that are being held in India and Bhutan in a most befitting and meaningful manner. Both sides expressed confidence that these activities would further strengthen the close bonds of friendship and cooperation between the peoples and governments of the two neighbouring countries.
While the Indian side complimented Bhutan for the great strides it has made in its socio-economic development in the past five decades due to its continued enlightened leadership, Bhutanese delegation expressed appreciation to India for its valuable support, which has greatly contributed to its all-round progress and transition from the Least Developed Country category.
They held wide-ranging discussions on matters of common interest and renewed their commitment to further strengthen the close ties of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make his second visit to Bhutan later this year. Narendra Modi was the sixth Indian Prime Minister to visit Bhutan after former PM Dr Manmohan Singh in 2008. Prime Minister Nehru’s visit was followed by Indira Gandhi in 1968, during which the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway was inaugurated. She was again in Bhutan in 1972 for the cremation of the third Druk Gyalpo. Rajiv Gandhi visited Bhutan in 1985, and 1988. Narasimha Rao visited Bhutan in 1993.
Meanwhile, the Government of India released the last cheque worth Nu 600 million for the Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP) to GNHC on July 5 in Thimphu.
The main objective of the Nu 5 billion ESP was to increase liquidity in the financial institutions to facilitate access to credit, stimulate economic activities, generate employment and provide special support schemes for greater socio-economic benefits.
Lyonchhen also called on the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind yesterday afternoon. Welcoming the Lyonchhen’s delegation, President Ram Nath Kovind said that Bhutan-India relation is based on utmost trust, understanding and sensitivities.
Lyonchhen also met the Ministers for External Affairs, Finance and Railways, and Power.
Lyonchhen’s delegation includes the minister and secretary of finance, GNHC secretary, foreign secretary, economic affairs secretary, DGPC managing director, and Bhutan’s ambassador to India.
The delegation returns home today.
Tshering Palden | New Delhi