Terming India and Bhutan relationship as ‘truly unique’, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the two countries are fighting the coronavirus pandemic together and assured that New Delhi stands with Thimphu in dealing with challenges post the global crisis.
The minister’s remark came at the signing ceremony of Concession Agreement for 600 MW Kholongchhu JV-Hydroelectric Project in Bhutan. The agreement was signed between Bhutan government and Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited.
Jaishankar called the joint project as yet another milestone in “diverse” and “multi-faceted bilateral cooperation” between the two neighbouring countries.
“600 MW Kholongchhu JV-Hydroelectric Project is the first joint venture to be implemented in Bhutan. I congratulate both Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) of Bhutan and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) of India for this feat and hope that they will leave no stone unturned in completing the project,” the minister said at the ceremony he attended via video conferencing.
The 600 MW run-of-the-river project is located on the lower course of the Kholongchhu River in Trashiyangtse District in Eastern Bhutan and it is expected to be completed in the second half of 2025.
Bhutan Foreign Minister Lyonpo Tandi Dorji, Bhutan Economic Affairs Minister Lyonpo Loknath Sharma and senior government officials including Foreign Secretaries of India and Bhutan also participated in the event.
During his remarks, Jaishankar expressed hope that the commencement of construction activities of this project will help to create economic and employment opportunities in Bhutan at this critical time when two countries are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our two countries are together to fight this global pandemic. The Government of India has provided support, as it should, to Bhutan in terms of medical equipment, kits and medicines as part of our Government of Bhutan’s requirements. We have also ensured uninterrupted and essential goods to Bhutan despite the lockdown. India stands together with Bhutan in dealing with health and economic challenges post by this pandemic,” he said.
Jaishankar said that the special ties have not only benefitted the two nations but it has actually created an example for the world.
“Bhutan and India have a truly unique relationship- one bound together by geography, history, culture, spiritual traditions and centuries-old people to people interaction. Our shared values have shaped our common world view. The special ties have not only benefitted our two nations, it has actually created an example for the world,” he said.
“One of two neighbours living and working together with great comfort between them to a shared welfare and growth and bound by deep friendship. Our time tested relations, which are characterised by so much understanding and trust have matured over the years,” he added.
Speaking further, the minister said: “It has sustained by a tradition of regular high-level visits and dialogues between our two countries. Most recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had undertaken a state visit to Bhutan on August 17-18, 2019. During the visit, the two Prime Ministers had formally inaugurated 720 MW Mangdechhu Hydroelectric power project.”
Jaishankar emphasised that the hydropower sector has been the most visible symbol of mutually benefited bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
“Recently, completed Mangdechhu Hydroelectric power project has brought the Government of India assisted installed capacity to more than 2100 MW. We are in a process of expediting the completion of other ongoing projects,” he said.