India, Bhutan ink 10 pacts to boost ties
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering held wide ranging talks on Saturday during which they discussed steps to further expand the bilateral partnership across several sectors as the two countries inked 10 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to infuse new energy in their ties.
“We had a comprehensive meeting, where we deliberated on the relations between India and Bhutan. There is great scope to further improve economic and cultural ties between our nations,” PM Modi said.
Modi, who is here on his second visit to Bhutan and the first since his re-election in May this year, inaugurated 740 MW Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant and also launched stamps to commemorate five decades of India-Bhutan Hydropower cooperation. “I am very happy to come to Bhutan at the beginning of my second term,” Modi said in a joint press statement.
The two countries signed 10 agreements in the field of space research, aviation, information technology, power and education. One of the MOUs include establishment of SATCOM Network in Thimphu for the utilisation of South Asia Satellite.
“The relations between India and Bhutan are based on the common interests of progress, prosperity and security of the people of both countries,” Modi said as he described Bhutan as “special friend” of India.
“Today we have achieved another historic milestone of this journey with the inauguration of the Mangdechhu project. With the cooperation of both countries, hydro-power generation capacity in Bhutan has crossed 2000 MW. I am confident that we will also take other projects forward very fast,” he said.
The two leaders jointly inaugurated the Ground Earth Station and SATCOM network, developed with assistance from Isro for utilization of South Asia Satellite in Bhutan.
Modi also launched RuPay Card in Bhutan by making a purchase at Simtokha Dzong, built in 1629 by Shabdrung Namgyal, which functions as a monastic and administrative centre and is one of the oldest dzongs in Bhutan. “I am very happy that today we have launched RuPay card in Bhutan. This will further enhance our relationship in digital payments, and trade and tourism. Our shared spiritual heritage and strong people-to-people relationship are key of our relations,” Prime Minister Modi said.
On increasing the currency swap limit for Bhutan under the SAARC currency swap framework, Modi said India’s approach is “positive”. He said an additional ~100 million will be available to Bhutan under a standby swap arrangement to meet the foreign exchange requirement.
The two leaders also unveiled e-plaque of the interconnection between India’s National Knowledge Network and Bhutan’s Druk Research and Education Network. He also announced to increase the supply of LPG from India from 700 to 1000 MT per month.