New Delhi: At the invitation of the President of India, H.E. Mrs. Droupadi Murmu, The King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck paid an official visit to India from 03-05 April, 2023. His Majesty was accompanied by H.E. Lyonpo Dr. Tandi Dorji, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, and senior officials of the Royal Government of Bhutan.
During the visit, His Majesty The King of Bhutan met with the President of India, H.E. Mrs. Droupadi Murmu and held talks with the Prime Minister of India, H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi. The External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and senior officials called on His Majesty The King of Bhutan.
India and Bhutan share an exemplary bilateral relationship characterized by trust, goodwill and mutual understanding at all levels, strong bonds of friendship and close people-to-people contacts. During the visit, His Majesty The King of Bhutan and Prime Minister of India held discussions on the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and on regional and global issues of mutual interest. The two leaders expressed satisfaction on the manner in which India and Bhutan assisted each other in the fight against the COVID pandemic. They agreed to closely work together for progress and development in the region as economies recover from the pandemic.
His Majesty The King of Bhutan shared valuable perspective and insights on the significant reforms process underway in Bhutan. His Majesty conveyed appreciation for the invaluable support that the Government of India continues to provide for Bhutan’s socio-economic development. He expressed satisfaction on Bhutan’s expanding partnership with India, including in the new frontiers of Space, Startups and STEM education.
In his interaction with His Majesty The King of Bhutan, Prime Minister reaffirmed India’s deep commitment to unique ties of friendship and cooperation with Bhutan and reiterated continued and full support to the socio-economic development in Bhutan based on the priorities of the Royal Government and as per the vision of His Majesty.
The meeting between His Majesty The King of Bhutan and the President of India was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere, reflecting the spirit of the exceptionally close and friendly ties between India and Bhutan.
The Bhutanese side expressed appreciation to the Indian side for extending Standby Credit Facility at reduced interest rate and extended settlement period, and for providing an additional currency swap support of USD 200 Million.
Hydropower cooperation has been the cornerstone of India-Bhutan bilateral economic partnership. It has been a productive arrangement for both countries whereby Bhutan receives steady stream of revenue from the sale of power from hydropower plants which have been jointly developed and India benefits from the assured supply of energy. The role of hydropower projects in helping the Bhutanese economy during the COVID-19 inducted global economic slowdown was noted in this context.
Both sides reviewed various elements of bilateral hydropower cooperation and expressed satisfaction that projects totaling 2136 MW, which have been jointly set up, are functioning well. Both sides also welcomed the recent handing over of 720 MW Mangdechhu HEP to Bhutan.
In terms of ongoing projects, both sides reiterated their commitment to find a technically sound and cost-effective way forward for Punatsangchhu-I HEP.
Both sides expressed satisfaction with the progress in construction of the 1020 MW Punatshangchhu-II HEP and looked forward to its commissioning by early 2024. Both sides noted that the tariff discussions had been initiated and agreed to expeditiously conclude the tariff protocol for this project.
On the periodic revision of tariff of Chhukha HEP, the Bhutanese side welcomed India’s offer to revise the tariff to Rs. 3 per unit, which represents a 17% increase over the earlier tariff.
The Bhutanese side thanked India for enabling the import of power from India to meet Bhutan’s energy deficit during the winter months. The Indian side agreed to positively consider Bhutan’s request for sale of power into the Indian Energy Exchange from the 64 MW Basochhu HEP.
Both sides reiterated the importance of cooperation in hydropower sector and the urgent need to review and finalize modalities for new projects including Sankosh HEP.
The visit of His Majesty The King of Bhutan reinforced the longstanding tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries. His Majesty’s visit also provided an opportunity for both countries to review the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and to advance our close bilateral partnership.