Consul General Phub Tshering from the Royal Bhutanese Consulate General, Guwahati, on Friday made a courtesy call on Chief Minister Pema Khanduat the latter’s office in Itanagar on Friday.
Tshering 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 eastern districts of the State.
During the informal discussion, Khandu emphasized 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 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 complete by 2020, proposal has been made for establishing an airport at Tawang.
“When these projects are complete, tourists will throng for 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 materializes a ropeway could be constructed to attract tourists.
Congratulating Bhutan for being a favorite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Khandu said Bhutan is close to India and particularly close to Arunachal Pradesh.
He 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 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 at Guwahati for any fruitful endeavor.
Earlier on Friday, Consul General Tshering also called on Governor Brig (Retd) B D Mishra at Raj Bhavan and discussed various bilateral issues for strengthening the age-old good relationship between the two neighbouring nations, in general, and with Arunachal Pradesh in particular.
The Governor said that both Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan have strong cultural links as there are similarities in their cultural heritage.
The Governor suggested the Consul General to enhance tourism and cultural exchange programmes for students of higher education of between the universities of Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan.
The Governor also took up the issue of Lumla –Tashigang Road for strengthening the border trade between the two countries.
He said that apart from giving an alternate road for the people of Tawang to reach Guwahati and other parts of the country, the road will save many lives of sick and suffering during the bad weather days when the existing road gets blocked due to rain, snow and landslides.
The distance from Tawang to Guwahati via Samdrupdzongkar is 395 kms compared to the normal existing route, which is about 550 kms and thus a distance of 155 kms will be reduced, when Lumla-Tashigang road is connected, the Governor said.
The Governor, while appreciating the high sense of cleanliness of the Bhutanese people, said that there is a lot to learn from the people of the ‘Land of the Happiest Country’ Bhutan.