Bhutan-India to sign MoU during King’s visit

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Dec 21: Bhutan and India will sign agreements for hydropower projects and a hospital during the visit of King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk to India beginning Monday.

The hydropower projects are to be build under Indian government or private sector investment while the hospital will be built on the lines of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences.

However, during his first maiden visit to any foreign country after his coronation as the fifth King in November last year, King Khesar might not be able to sign agreement for construction of railway tracks that would enhance Bhutanese export industries.

The delay in finalizing procedures for land acquisition in some tea garden in neighboring Indian districts led to omission of the project for discussion during this royal visit.

The MoUs on initiating the detailed project reports (DPRs) on the hydel projects will be inked under the 60-year umbrella agreement signed in 2006. Originally India planned to import 5,000 MW from Bhutan by 2020 but this has been doubled under an accelerated hydel power development agreement.

During the King’s visit, the MoUs will be signed on initiating DPRs for the Amochhu (620 MW), Kuvi-Gongi (1800 MW), Kholongchhu (486 MW) and Chamkarchu-I (670 MW) projects.

King Khesar is scheduled to meet with the political leadership including President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna.