Bhutan Country Info

PRACTICALITIES

The Royal Government of Bhutan has adopted a very cautious approach to the development of tourism in the kingdom in an effort to avoid the negative impacts of tourism on the culture and the environment. In 1997, the number of tourists who visited Bhutan reached 5,361. Visitors to Bhutan must either be guests of the government or tourists. All tourists must travel on a pre-planned, prepaid, guided package tour. Independent travel is not permitted.

VISAS

All visitors to Bhutan must have a visa approved prior to arriving in the kingdom. Those who have not had a visa approved will not be permitted to board their Druk Air flight to Bhutan. A two-week visa costs US$20. BTCL can apply for an extension of all tourist visas should a visitor wish to remain in the kingdom for longer than two weeks. All visa applications must reach Bhutan at least 30 days prior to the intended arrival date, earlier if traveling to the Kingdom in the peak months of September, October, November, March or April. Full passport details must be faxed to BTCL in order for the visa to be processed with the immigration authorities. BTCL will advise all visitors of their status before their intended departure date. Visitors are reminded to bring 2 original passport-size photographs with them to Bhutan as they will be required by the immigration authority at Paro Airport. The actual visas are issued in your passports at the entry points, either Paro airport or Phuentsholing (land entry).

CUSTOMS

The Bhutanese authorities strictly monitor the export of any religious antiquities or antiques of any kind from the Kingdom. Personal videos, cameras, personal computers, portable telephones or any other electronic device should be registered with the customs authorities on arrival at Paro and will be checked by the same on departure.

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CURRENCY

Bhutanese currency is the ngultrum (Nu). The approximate exchange rate is Nu.36 for one US dollar. The ngultrum is on par with the Indian rupee (both the Nu and Indian Rupee can be used in Bhutan). US Dollars and dollar traveler’s cheques can be exchanged at banks (hours 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Mon to Fri) and the larger hotels. Ngultrum or rupees will be what you will need for your purchases while in the Kingdom.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Bhutan Tourism Corporation Ltd. owned hotels are one of the several delightful surprises visitors can expect in the Kingdom. The company operates hotels throughout Bhutan ensuring its guests a consistent style and comfort level throughout their stay. Each property is designed in the traditional Bhutanese style yet each retains its own character and each is set in unusual and dramatic locations: from the Hotel Olathang in the foothills of the Paro Valley surrounded by blue pine forests to the Hotel Motithang overlooking Thimphu’s skyline to Trongsa’s Sherubling Lodge, with its alpine feel and remarkable vista over the golden roofs of Trongsa Dzong. A restaurant serving traditional Bhutanese cuisine tempered to Western tastes can be found in each of the hotels. Many of the hotel chefs have been trained at a hotel school in Austria and are very comfortable preparing food for Western taste.

Hotel rooms are all decorated in a traditional Bhutanese style; many are quite reminiscent of mountain lodges. The rooms are cozy and extremely well-heated during the winter. Bathrooms are clean and European in style with running hot water.

All of the hotels are now equipped with international direct dial telephones and fax machines. IDD calls can be made to or from Bhutan to anywhere in the world. Hotels not owned and operated by BTCL can also be arranged on request.

CLIMATE

Bhutan’s climate ranges from tropical in the south, to temperate in the center of the country, to cold in the north…and like much of your adventure in the Himalayas it will be quite unpredictable. The weather can vary dramatically from place to place and can vary equally dramatically from day to day or within the same day. In the Thimphu and Paro valleys, the winter daytime temperature averages 60 degrees Fahrenheit during clear winter days but drops well below freezing during the night. The fluctuations are not quite so great during the summer and daytime temperature often rises to the mid-eighties Fahrenheit. Punakha and the central valleys are lower than their Western neighbors and tend to always be a few degrees warmer. The higher peaks will be snow-covered all year. The higher passes, particularly Thrumsing La­between Bumthang and Mongar, can be treacherous during the winter as snow falls frequently and ices up the road. Light snow will often dust Thimphu and Paro in winter but infrequently will there be heavy snowstorms despite their location in the Central Himalayas.

The Summer monsoon from the Bay of Bengal affects Bhutan from late May to early October. Views over the Himalayas from the higher passes are usually obscured from May to August. There are notable advantages to visiting Bhutan during the wet season including the spectacular rhododendron blossom in May and the deep green valleys.

FOOD

Spicy chilies (ema) and cheese (datse) blended with a wide variety of vegetables are found on many Bhutanese menus. Bhutan’s professional chefs temper their natural tendency to over spice dishes by preparing food more suitable to western taste ranging from Continental to Chinese and Bhutanese to Indian.

WHAT TO BRING

Bhutan’s changeable climate means you have to bring an assortment of clothes. A layered wardrobe probably makes the most sense. Good walking shoes or hiking boots are essential even if you are not hiking. Because of the altitude a hat or cap and a good pair of sunglasses are essential. Warm clothes are recommended for the evening.

DRUK-AIR

One of the smallest national carriers in the world, Druk Air has a fleet of two BAe-146 aircraft. An international team of flight attendants, trained by Thai Airways International add to the airline’s credibility.
Druk Air is the only airline that serves Bhutan, so most visitors to Bhutan are introduced to the kingdom in its care. Few are disappointed. The final leg of a journey to Bhutan begins in Calcutta, Dhaka or Kathmandu and involves a flight of no more than one hour – however it’s an hour that travelers will always remember. As the airplane rises towards the foothills of the Himalayas, the mountains rise to eye-level with the aircraft. On clear days from Kathmandu, the airplane flies past the summit of Everest. From Calcutta the Himalayan panoply invites visitors into its clutches. Delays do occur on account of the changeable Himalayan weather so travelers are advised to build an extra day onto the end of their trips in case of hold-ups. Druk Air flies twice weekly to Delhi via Kathmandu and three times weekly to Bangkok via Calcutta and Dhaka. Druk Air is also now serving Yangon (Rangoon) in Burma once weekly from Paro en route to Bangkok. Confirmation of travel during festival seasons (March, April, September, October) must be made at least three months in advance to ensure seats with the airline. The aircraft has a seating capacity of 72.,10 Business Class seats and 62 Economy Class seats. For complete flight schedules and other related information go to the Druk Air website: www.drukair.com

NEWS IN THE KINGDOM

Kuensel, the national newspaper of Bhutan is published weekly in three languages; Dzongkha, English and Nepali. Well written and highly informative. Kuensel does a good job keeping its Bhutanese and international readers up to date on the politics and current events in the kingdom. Kuensel website: www.kuensel.com

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SPECIAL INTEREST TREKKING

Bhutan offers great opportunities for trekking with its splendid scenic beauty, lofty mountains and deep valleys untempered by modernisation. It provides scenic beauty which gradually unfolds in all its glory and charm. Lifestyles change from the colorful lively pace of Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, to the more traditional, simple remote mountain villages.

Trekking in this Himalayan kingdom is one of the most wonderful experience a visitor can have. It is quite different from other parts of the Himalayas. The country ranges from the dense forest of subtropical jungles to the alpine shrubs, endowed with a wide spectrum of Himalayan flora and fauna. The land is thinly populated with scattered settlements. A person may walk for several days before sighting a village. Trekking in Bhutan is a recent development, although the Himalayas have always held a long-standing attraction to the Western world for trekking and mountaineering. Bhutan is one of the most exclusive and rare destinations for any tourist. The beautiful landscape, unique architecture, snowcapped peaks, colorful dzongs, Lamaist Buddhist traditions and friendly people leave an everlasting impression on the visitor. Trekking permits are required for all parties. Like other tours, trekking is handled by Bhutan Tourism Corporation Ltd. BTCL accepts only groups of six or more trekkers. A treking day usually consists of five to six hours of walking. Pack animals, ponies and yacks for the higher altitude treks, are provided for carrying provisions, baggage and equipment. All necessary camping equipment and food preparation is provided by BTCL.

All trekking parties are accompanied by a trained guide, a cook, an assistant and at least one horseman. The support crew walks ahead of the trekking party each day and pitches camp before the trekkers arrive. A warm cup of tea or coffee waiting in the dining tent is the most welcome treat after hours of walking. All meals are carefully planned. Breakfast is always hot and dinner includes a choice of at least four dishes. In many of the remote parts of the country, villages are scarce and few people cross paths, therefore BTCL takes every precaution to ensure the safety and comfort of trekkers. Altitude sickness is an acute problem for trekkers, in Bhutan. Almost all of the designated treks go above 3,000 meters. Those who have not properly acclimatised or suffer from altitude sickness are advised not to trek. If you are not used to high altitudes it is a good idea to start slowly and allow yourself to acclimatise.

BTCL offers a number of treks, which cover most of the central and northern parts of Bhutan. Each trek has its own beauty and charm. A few are difficult treks are suited for people of good physical fitness. Yet others are for any age group, not too long or strenuous, with visits to places of interest. Things you would need to bring on trek include sleeping bags, foam mattresses, strong comfortable trekking boots, cap/hat, sun glasses, sun block, flashlight, insect repellent cream, and personal toiletries and medicine, and rain gear during the rainy season.

FESTIVALS

The festivals in Bhutan have reputations for being raucous, joyous affairs. The most popular for tourists are those held in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang. They mark the busiest time of year for the tourism industry. Airplane tickets and hotel rooms are frequently difficult to come by. The dzongs come to life with color, music, and dancing as valley dwellers and townsfolk dress in their finest clothes and join together to exorcise evil spirits and rejoice in a new harvest. Rare masked and sword dances and other rituals are performed in dzong courtyards and temples. Most of the dances date back from before the middle ages and are only performed once or twice each year. Each dance has its own spiritual importance and can be performed by monks or lay village elders dressed in bright costumes. Certain festivals end with the unveiling and worship of huge religious appliqués or throngdrels. The moment of the unveiling is shrouded in secrecy and creates great excitement among all the participants. Tourists are allowed into the dzongs to watch the festivals, but are not allowed into the inner sanctuaries. Photography should always be discreet. It is generally allowed for photographs to be taken at tsechus but not at dromches.

FESTIVAL DATES FOR 1999 AND 2000. Please note that all efforts have been made to confirm festival dates. In some areas, especially outside Thimphu and Paro, festival dates can change. Therefore it is advisable to confirm dates for local festivals with the authorities concerned at the Dzongkhags or through BTCL.

FESTIVAL DATES FOR 1999

June to December

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Kurjey Tshechu: June 23

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Nimlung Tshechu: June 21 to 23

THIMPHU, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Thimphu Drupchen/Dromche: September 16 to 17

THIMPHU, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Thimphu Tshechu: September 20 to 22

WANGDI, WESTERN BHUTAN

Wangdi Tshechu: September 17 to 20

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Tamshing Phala Choepa (Bumthang): September 19 to 21

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Tangbi Mani (Bumthang): September 24 to 26

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Jambay Lhakhang Drub (Bumthang): October 24 to 28

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Prakhar Tshechu (Bumthang): October 25 to 28

TRASHIGANG, EASTERN BHUTAN

Trashigang Tshechu: November 16 to 19

MONGAR, EASTERN BHUTAN

Mongar Tshechu: November 15 to 18

TRONGSA, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Trongsa Tshechu: November 17 to 20

LHUNTSE, EASTERN BHUTAN

Lhuntse Tshechu: December 17 to 19

FESTIVAL DATES FOR 2000

PUNAKHA, WESTERN BHUTAN

Punakha Dromche: February 10 to 15

TRASHIGANG, EASTERN BHUTAN

Chorten Kora: February 19 and March 6

TRASHIGANG, EASTERN BHUTAN

Gomkora Tsechu: March 13 to 15

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Chhukha Tsechu: March 13 to 15

PARO, WESTERN BHUTAN

Paro Tshechu: March 16 to 20 (Thongdrol 20th)

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Ura Yakshoe (Bumthang): April 15 to 18

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Kurjey Lhakang: July 11

THIMPHU, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Thimphu Tshechu: October 6 to 8

WANGDI, WESTERN BHUTAN

Wangdi Tshechu: October 5 to 7

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Tamshing Phala Choepa (Bumthang): October 8 to 10

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Tangbi Mani (Bumthang): October 13 to 15

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Jambay Lhakang Drup (Bumthang): October 24 to 28

BUMTHANG, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Jakar Tshechu (Bumthang): November 11

MONGAR, EASTERN BHUTAN

Mongar Tshechu: December 3 to 6

TRASHIGANG, EASTERN BHUTAN

Trashigang Tshechu: December 4 to 7

NATIONAL DAY December 17

TRONGSA, CENTRAL BHUTAN

Trongsa Tshechu: January 3 to 7, 2001

LHUNTSE, EASTERN BHUTAN

Lhuntse Tshechu: January 3 to 7, 2001

WEAVING

In the high eastern mountain villages like Radhi you will come across women moving back and forth in the open-air with wooden slats strapped to their lower backs. They are Bhutan’s weavers who ply their trade on the open mountainside or field singing gently as they rock back and forth.Yarns and thread are dyed (vegetable dye) and dried for a week before being woven into traditional gho and kira. These are long flowing garments which have become the obligatory national dress of the kingdom. Weavers produce silk on cotton, fine wool on cotton and silk on silk textiles: the finest weavers are usually found in the most remote of the eastern villages. This art form is passed from generation to generation. Since the crops grown are just enough to feed the village in a good year. These hand-loomed textiles are the only way for the village to get money for supplies. A complete kira is made up from 3 pieces or “yadhras” the process takes between six months to one year to complete. The Bhutanese culture prizes these textiles so highly that they are considered part of a family’s wealth and our used as currency. Truly amazing art found only in Bhutan.

ARCHERY

Archery is the much loved national sport of Bhutan. Each village has its own archery range, and it is impossible to imagine any festival taking place without a high-spirited competition. Contests take place year round. The distance between the two targets is about 120 meters. The targets are made of wood splashed with colorful patterns. Inter-village rivalry is common throughout the kingdom and this rivalry is no more fiercely expressed than during annual archery tournaments. They are generally held during Losar (Bhutanese New Year coinciding with February or March of the calender) but smaller competitions are held throughout the year. The tournament’s excitement begins the night before the contest. Teams employ astrologers to assist in the selection process and to cast spells on the opposition. Each team spends the night prior to the match together in an age-old tradition of sleeping in the barn or the forest, depending on the outcome of the astrologers calculations. Apart from improving team spirit, it is thought that a man should not spend the night before the tournament with his wife as his concentration may begin to waiver the following day. The tournament itself begins with initiation ceremonies and a traditional breakfast. Alcohol flows from early in the day and spirits are always high. As the day passes and the alcohol takes effect, the party becomes more and more raucous. Opponents whisper obscenities into their adversaries’ ears and dance diversionary dances in front of the target. Women from each village participate in the fun by singing for their team and jeering at the opposing team.

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Bhutan Facts

Geography

Brief History

People

Natural Resources

Constitution and Form of Government

Economy

India-Bhutan Relations

1949 India-Bhutan Treaty

Bhutan’s Development Plans and Indian Cooperation

Seventh Five Year Plan (1992-97)

Trade with India

Educational, Cultural and Technical Cooperation

Indian Community

Geography

Bhutan can be broadly divided into three geographic zones; Southern, Central and Northern Bhutan. Southern Bhutan consists of low foothills with an intricate maze of streams and rivers emerging into the plains in West Bengal and Assam. This area of Bhutan is a 5-10 km. wide belt, running from East to West, separating the plains from the rich valleys of Central Bhutan.

Central Bhutan has beautiful valleys at the height of 1,880 meters to 2,400 meters. They are comparatively broad and flat. High mountain ranges with heights of 3,600 to 4,500 meters separate these valleys in the region. Valleys in the Central region of Eastern Bhutan are at a height of 915 meters.

Northern Bhutan consists of high mountain ranges with rugged peaks covered with snow and ice. The range has a mountain peak rising upto 7,300 meters in the west. It runs eastwards and has two prominent peaks of about 6,400 meters. In addition, the Black Mountains which run from north to south divide Bhutan into two areas, both geographically and linguistically.

There are seven principal rivers and valleys in Bhutan, viz. Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Tengchu, Teang and Bumthang. These valleys follow the general direction of the ranges (north to south). The population of Bhutan is mainly concentrated in these valleys where the land is fertile and mostly under cultivation.

Brief History

Little is known of the early history of Bhutan or Druk Yul (the Land of Thunder Dragon). According to tradition, it appears that a tribe from the environs of Cooch Behar ruled the country prior to the Christian era. By the middle of the16th century, when Mahayana Buddhism was established in Bhutan, a form of government with dual control as represented by the ‘Dharam Raja’ (Spiritual leader) and ‘Deb Raja’ (Temporal Ruler) came into existence. The country was divided into four provinces (i) Thange (ii) Thimphu (iii) Tongsa (iv) Tashigang – each headed by a governor (Penlop). In the latter half of the 19th century, real power was vested in the Penlop of Tongsa District. The office of ‘Deb Raja’ ceased to exist after 1904. In 1907, the then Penlop of Tongsa Sir Ugyen Wangchuk was elected by a Bhutanese Council as a hereditary King. He was recognised as such by the British Government in India. He was succeeded by his son, Jigme Wangchuck in 1926, who was followed by Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1952. The present King, HM Jigme Singye Wangchuck, ascended the throne in July 1972.

People

The country has an area of about 46,500 sq.kms. and a population of about 6,75,000. The population density in 1994 was 14.5 per sq.km. The capital, Thimphu, is situated in Bhutan’s western part at a height of about 2,440 mts. Most Bhutanese are Mahayana Buddhists mostly of the Drukpa Kagyupa sect. They were converted to Buddhism in the 8th Century A.D. by the well-known Indian saint, Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche). People of Nepali origin, who are concentrated mainly in the hot and humid doars of Southern Bhutan, are predominantly Hindu.

There are four main languages spoken in Bhutan; (a) Dzongkha – spoken in western and northern Bhutan, is also the official language of the country. (b) Bumthangkha in Central Bhutan, (c) Sarchapkha in Eastern Bhutan, and (d) Nepali in Southern Bhutan The first three languages are written in the Tibetan script. Nepalese is written in Devanagari.

Unlike its neighbours, Bhutan never had a rigid class system. Social and educational opportunities are not affected by rank or birth. There is tremendous social mobility. Bhutanese women enjoy equal rights with men. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan. Many Bhutanese men are skilful archers. Basketball, tennis and golf are other popular sports.

Natural Resources

Bhutan has deposits of gypsum, dolomite, copper, graphite, limestone, coal and tungsten. Their exploration is constrained by inaccessibility of the area and high extraction and processing cost. About 70% of Bhutan is covered by forests. Bhutan has considerable potential for hydro-electric power development.

Constitution and Form of Government

Traditionally, the Monarch in Bhutan has enjoyed absolute power. However, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the late King of Bhutan, progressively took steps to liberalise the country’s political structure by establishing institutions associating the people of Bhutan in running the affairs of the State. Towards this end, he established the Tshogdu (Bhutanese National Assembly) in 1953. Tshogdu has 150 members of which 105 are Chimmis (representatives of the people elected for a term of three years). The Monk bodies elect 12 monastic representatives while the remaining 33 are representatives of the Government and are nominated by the King. Its principal functions are to enact laws, approve senior appointments in the Government and advise on all matters of national importance. There is also a small body called the Royal Advisory Council, which consists of nine Councillors representing the people, the Lamas and the Government. All members of the Council are also members of the Tshogdu. The principal function of the Council is to advise the King and his Ministers on all matters of national importance.

Economy

Bhutan’s economy is mainly based on agriculture and animal husbandry. Consequently, the predominant occupation of 85% of Bhutanese is in this sector. The cultivation practices are still labour-oriented making only very limited use of modern technology. The main crops are paddy, maize, wheat, barley, millet and buck-wheat (the production of which was estimated at 1,25,000 MT in 1994). The horticultural crops, such as orange, apple, cardamom, a small quantity of asparagus and mushroom, and other items like pulses, mustard, potato, chillis and vegetables account for about 41,000 MT per annum. An important component of the rural economy playing a vital role in its sustenance is animal husbandry.

In the industrial sector, food processing, distillery operations and production of cement constitutes 2/3rd of the total industrial production in Bhutan. There are some 60 privately-owned small or medium scale industries, engaged in producing such consumer items as soaps, candles, matches, wooden and steel furniture, simple processed food-stuff, etc. Due to the limited domestic market, the production is on small-scale. Some of the bigger companies market their products mainly in India.

Prior to 1970, most taxes were paid in kind. In 1970 cash taxes based on the type of land holdings were introduced.The revenue base is not broad. Income taxes are levied primarily on civil servants income and small business is also taxed marginally. In lieu of income-tax rural households are taxed on the basis of their land and live-stock holdings.

Monetisation of economy is still limited and the Indian rupee, which is at par with Ngultrum (Bhutan’s national currency. 1 Nu. = 100 Chhetrums), circulates freely within the country. Apart from the Royal Monetary Authority, established in 1982 to provide central banking services, there are two commercial banks, the Bank of Bhutan (jointly owned by the Royal Government and the State Bank of India) and the National Bank of Bhutan. In addition three non-banking financial institutions also exist.

India-Bhutan Relations

Bhutan and India have traditionally enjoyed friendly and close relations. Both the countries have nurtured these ties over the years, displaying sensitivity to each other’s legitimate needs and interests. An important factor in the relationship is the well established tradition of regular exchange of views between the leaders of both the countries. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck has undertaken a number of working visits to India. The then Prime Minister Shri P..V.Narasimha Rao visited Bhutan in August, 1993. The King paid an official visit to New Delhi from 4th to 7th March 1996.

1949 India-Bhutan Treaty

The basic framework of bilateral relations continues to be the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation of 1949 between the two countries. This treaty envisages a free trade regime between India and Bhutan. As per this treaty Bhutan would be guided by the advice of the Government of India with regard to its external relations.

Bhutan’s Development Plans and Indian Cooperation

Serious development efforts in Bhutan began in early 1960s when India started extending financial assistance. To-date, India is the principal donor of aid for the economic development of Bhutan. So far, six Five-Year Plans of Bhutan have been completed, the first two of which were totally financed by India.

Plan-wise allocations made by the Royal Government during the years 1961-97, showing India’s contribution therein, are as follows:

Year

India’s

Total allocation

(Rs crores)

Indian

contribution

Rs crores)

% of

contribution

1961-66

First Plan

10.72 10.72 100
1966-71

Second plan

20.20 20.22 100
1971-76(3rd Plan) 47.52 42.66 90
1976-81(4th Plan) 110.62 85.30 77
1981-87(5th Plan) 444.05 134.00 30.2
1987-92(6th Plan) 950.00 400.00 42.1
1992-97(7th Plan) 2350.00 750.00 31.9

In the earlier period, India contributed to Bhutan’s development outside the scope of the Five-Year Plans (FYP) as well. From the Fourth FYP onwards Bhutan started availing financial assistance from sources other than India including multilateral agencies.

Paro Airport, Bhutan Broadcasting Station, major highways, electricity distribution system for Thimphu and Paro; Indo-Bhutan microwave link, exploration of mineral resources, survey and mapping were some of the major projects carried out with Indian assistance. Brief details of the some major projects completed or being under execution are given below:

(i) CHUKHA HYDRO-ELECTRIC PROJECT: A good example of India’s contribution to Bhutan’s development is the successful 336MW Chukha Hydro-electric Project built by India on a turnkey basis at a cost of Rs.247 crore. This 336 MW project earns over 30% of revenue of the Royal Govt of Bhutan through sale of electricity to India. It was constructed and commissioned by a bilateral Chukha Project Authority (CPA), and was inaugurated by the President of India, in October 1988. After the project started functioning smoothly, it was handed over to Bhutan in June 1991.

(ii) PENDEN CEMENT PLANT with a capacity of 300 tonnes per day started trial production in 1980. The project costing Rs.14.20 crore was gifted to the people of Bhutan by India and went into commercial production in February 1982. The Penden Cement Authority, besides meeting the entire domestic requirement of Bhutan, exports surplus cement to the neighbouring Indian States. Working at its optimum capacity, the cement factory has contributed handsomely to the government exchequer. Encouraged by profits from the Penden Cement Plant, the Royal Government has proposed to establish with India’s assistance a 1500 tonne per day cement plant near Nanglam in Eastern Bhutan.

(iii) TALA HYDRO-ELECTRIC PROJECT is a 1020 MW project on Wangchu river downstream of Chukha project. The Government of India funds the project completely by providing 60% of the cost as grant and 40% as loan to Bhutan. The surplus power would be sold by the Royal Govt of Bhutan to India at a mutually agreed rate. The bilateral agreement for execution of this project was signed on 5th March 1996. Subsequently an eight-member Tala Hydro-electric Project Authority (THPA) has been constituted which is chaired by the Bhutanese Minister of Trade and Industry.

(iv) KURICHU HYDRO-ELECTRIC PROJECT: three units of 15 MW each with provision for an additional 15MW unit are envisaged. The Government of India had earlier signed a bilateral agreement for implementation of this project , which is being executed on a turn-key basis by the National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC).

(v) DUNGSUM CEMENT PLANT is a dry process plant with an annunal capacity of 0.5 million tons per year. As per the Agreement signed on 5th March 1996, India would provide necessary funds for the project. An eight-member Dungsum Cement Plant Authority (DCPA) has been constituted, under Bhutanese chairmanship to implement the Project. M/s Holtec Consulting Pvt. Ltd., the Consultants, have submitted the updated DPR (detailed project report).

Seventh Five-Year Plan (1992-97)

The total Indian assistance to Bhutan during the Seventh FYP (1992-97) is Rs.750 crore. Tala Hydro-electric Project, Kurichu Hyrdro-electric Project and Dungsum Cement Plant are three major projects included in the 7th FYP. Other important projects taken up under Indian assistance during the Plan period are preparation of Detailed Project Report for the Wangchu and Bunakha Hydro-electric Project; Sankosh Multipurpose Project; Hospitals at Mongar, Lhuntshi and Tashiyangtse; Paro Airport Terminal Complex and Control Tower; Expansion of Thimphu General Hospital; Restoration of Punakha Dzong; Development of Mini-hydels; Construction of a National Power Training Institute; Construction of Pasakha-Monitar Road; Construction of Schools and Identified Survey Projects.

Trade with India

There is a completely free trade regime between India .The India-Bhutan Trade and Commerce Agreement was renewed in March 1995 and is effective for a ten-year period upto March 2005.

Major items of exports from Bhutan to India are electricity (from Chukha Hydroelectric Project), cement, timber and wood products, minerals, cardamom, fruit products, potatoes, oranges and apples, raw silk and alcoholic beverages. Major exports from India to Bhutan are petroleum products, rice, automobiles and spares, machinery and fabrics. Import-Export statistics are given below:- —Rs. million-

  Exports from Bhutan

to India (Rs million)

Imports to Bhutan

from India(Rs million)

Trade balance

(Rs million)

1990-91 1129.57 1254.92 -125.35
1991-92 1465.13 1814.14 -349.01
1992-93* 1522.18 2086.26 -564.08
1993-94* 1825.75 2420.06 -594.31
1994-95* 2088.00 2750.00 -662.03

*Provisional Estimates

Educational, Cultural and Technical Cooperation

Cooperation in the educational and cultural fields is close. A large number of Bhutanese students study in Indian schools and colleges on a private basis. Many scholarships in institutes of higher learning are extended to them under the Colombo Plan and the GOI Scholarship Scheme . Bhutan’s Sherubtse College is affiliated to the Delhi University. His Majesty has endowed a chair for Buddhist studies in the Nagarjuna University in Andhra Pradesh. Cooperation between cultural institutions, especially museums, in both countries is growing apace.There is a cultural exchange programme whereby Bhutanese delegations visit India each year. India also provides experts and specialists to Bhutan in various fields.

Indian Community

Indian community comprises of nearly 20,000 persons, most of whom are traders and labourers. There are over 1,500 Indians, including governmental deputationists working with the Royal Government of Bhutan . Most of them are engaged in teaching, engineering, accountancy and administration.

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