Bhutan Live reported on Saturday that the Indian government’s allocation of Rs 120 billion for the extensive expansion and modernization of railway infrastructure in the northeastern region of the country will bolster the avidly anticipated first-ever Bhutan-India railway connection.
Bhutanese media reported that a 57.5-kilometer railway line will connect Kokrajhar in Assam to Gelephu in Bhutan’s Sarpang district at a cost of approximately Rs 10 billion and completely funded by the Indian government. The anticipated completion date of the endeavour is 2026.
S. Jaishankar, India’s minister of external affairs, alluded to ongoing discussions between India and Bhutan regarding this transformative railway connection a month ago.
He stated to the Indian media, “We are currently negotiating a railway link between Bhutan and Assam.” Assam stands to benefit substantially from Bhutan’s efforts to increase tourism opportunities. Bordering Assam, the proposed railway link between Gelephu and Kokrajhar could be a game-changer for both trade and tourism.”
The railway initiative has the potential to be a game-changer in terms of facilitating the export of goods, facilitating cultural exchange, and strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries. The project gathered momentum during the 2018 visit of the Bhutanese prime minister to India. It is anticipated that the construction of the Gelephu-Kokrajhar rail connection will pave the way for additional railway projects in the southern and eastern regions of both countries, including Samtse, Phuentsholing, Nganglam, and Samdrupjongkhar.
Notably, Bhutan and India formalised their commitment to this transformative vision in 2005 by signing a Memorandum of Understanding, cementing their shared aspiration to connect the bordering cities of the two countries via a railway network. This historic Bhutan-India railway connection is inching closer to becoming a reality, ushering in a new era of connectivity and cooperation. (ANI)