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Updated: December 22, 2009 00:00 IST

India, Bhutan to sign four MoUs for hydel power projects

Sandeep Dikshit
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Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck being received by Union Minister of State for Commerce Jyotiraditya Scindia on his arrival at IGI Airport in New Delhi on Monday. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Pavan Kumar Varma also seen.
PTI Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck being received by Union Minister of State for Commerce Jyotiraditya Scindia on his arrival at IGI Airport in New Delhi on Monday. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Pavan Kumar Varma also seen.

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck arrived here on his first state visit to a country after his formal coronation as the fifth King of Bhutan last year.

India and Bhutan intend cementing their ties further by signing a dozen pacts including four memoranda of understanding for hydel projects.

The two sides will also ink a pact on setting up a super-specialty hospital on the lines of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences.

However, an agreement on laying of a rail line that would have provided Bhutan a more enduring and economical trade link with countries in the region is not on the cards owing to land acquisition issues in some tea gardens on the Indian side, diplomatic sources here said.

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.

According to Indian sources, over 60 per cent of Bhutan’s gross domestic product accrues from sale of surplus power from three hydro power stations - Kurichu, Chukha and Tala - and the generation will rise exponentially once work on four more - Punatsangchu, Wangchu, Bunakha and Sankosh - is over.

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.

He will interact 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.

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