Itanagar: Bhutanese consul general Phub Tshering on Friday made a courtesy call on Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu at the latter’s office in Itanagar. He was accompanied by consul Sherub Phuntsho.
The consul general is on a two-day visit to the state that shares one of its international boundaries with Bhutan and has close cultural and religious affinity, particularly with the western districts of the state.
During the informal discussion, Khandu emphasised on the need for connecting Bhutan by road from Tawang, which he claimed would boost the tourism sectors of both Bhutan and India benefiting Arunachal Pradesh. He said the road on the Indian side in Tawang district is almost ready, however, construction is yet to begin on the Bhutan side.
He informed the consul general, who has consular jurisdiction over Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland, that with the support of the government of India surface and air connectivity in the state has received a major fillip in recent years. He said while rail connectivity to Tawang from Bhalukpong is expected to be completed by 2020, a proposal has been made for establishing an airport at Tawang.
“When these projects are complete, tourists will throng to West Kameng and Tawang districts in huge numbers. If we open the road from Tawang to Bhutan, both our state and Bhutan will immensely benefit. It’s a win-win situation for both of us,” he stressed.
Khandu said that the government is ready to sit and sort out any concerns of the Bhutan government. He even proposed that till the road materialises, a ropeway could be constructed to attract tourists.
Congratulating Bhutan for being a favourite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Khandu said Bhutan is close to India and particularly close to Arunachal Pradesh.
Khandu also appreciated Bhutan for its progress and sound economy despite being a small Himalayan kingdom. “We have a lot to learn from Bhutan especially in optimally utilizing our rich hydropower and tourism potentials, which are more or less same as that in Bhutan,” he said.
Consul general Phub Tshering acknowledged the huge tourism potential of Arunachal Pradesh. He said the state government could collaborate with Bhutan in the tourism sector and advised for focusing on high-end tourism to generate revenue.
“This is a big state and it has huge potential,” he said and offered the assistance and cooperation of his office based in Guwahati for any fruitful endeavour.