Bhutan King’s mega city of dreams coming up along Assam border


Lot of people could be curious about the possible agenda of Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk’s 2-day visit to Mumbai, India’s business hub, starting Tuesday.

According to sources, the Bhutanese monarch is scheduled to have one on one meetings with top Indian business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani, the Tatas, Gautam Adani, the Oberois and the Birlas, besides few others.

The Bhutan King, according to these sources, have a plan that is in the drawing board stage now to build a mega city right on the border with Assam. Well, the idea is to build a world class city with all tourism- friendly amenities at Gelephu in Bhutan’s Sarpang district across western Assam’ s Chirang district.

The Gelephu project is called the Sarpang Special Economic Zone Project with the King clearly planning to have all the Bhutanese spiritual and cultural elements thrown into it. In July, Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra visited Gelephu and was briefed by the Bhutanese authorities on the SEZ and the regional hub project. Bhutan 8s hoping for India’s wholehearted support to the Gateway City project.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk is expected to announce the Gelephu project to his countrymen during his Bhutanese National Day address on December 17.

Gelephu, that has an estimated population of over 10,000, is a roughly 140 square kilometer area that has the largest plains stretch in the whole of Bhutan. It is a major road entry point to Bhutan through India.

Sources said that some of the Indian business tycoons are already aware of King Wangchuk’s plans and had expressed their desire to discuss the idea face to face with him. Since quite a few of these top notch business leaders wanted to take the idea forward, the King offered to visit Mumbai himself. Sources said Indian government leaders too are aware of the king’ s idea.

Bhutan’s dynamic 43- year- old monarch is well aware of the need to protect the Himalayan eco-system and is therefore considering building such a mega city in the foothills, along the border with India, where development is already taking place. Gelephu already has an airport that operates domestic flights and has good road connectivity to India through Assam.

With chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam, the Bhutan king discussed, among other things, the establishment of the 57 km Kokrajhar- Gelephu rail link.