The first-ever railway link connecting India and Bhutan, the Golden Jubilee Railway, was established to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic visit to Bhutan in 1958.
During a press conference in Thimphu yesterday, the Foreign Secretary of India, Sujatha Singh, said that Ministry of Railways is looking into the feasibility of doing an additional railway route.
The Press Secretary of India read out what the President of India has said on the Golden Jubilee Railway Link, “We have 16 entry and exit points in India, including 9 road routes, for imports from and exports to Bhutan. In January 2014, we agreed to facilitate development of bypass access road from Samdrup Jongkhar to Assam. As regards to Bhutan’s requests for four more permanent Land Customs Stations (LCSs), we are moving ahead with the two LCSs in Assam and are in the process of Land acquisition for the other this matter. two in West Bengal.”
The Press Secretary stated that unfortunately both the two proposed routes; Hashimara to Phuentsholing and Hashimara to Toribari of the Golden Jubilee Railway Line, pass through tea garden estates or forest land.
He said the conservation and livelihood aspects of these areas cannot be neglected.
The Press Secretary stated that India is always open to ideas from Bhutan on any other routes to improve our cross border connectivity and resolve this matter.
He read out that Bhutan’s current internet links are connected through Siliguri and that India would be happy to provide assistance for any new proposals for enhanced digital connectivity.
The railway link was proposed as 18 km link connecting Hashimara in West Bengal to Toribari in Bhutan The press conference was attended by the Foreign Secretary of India, Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Gautam Bambawale, and the Press Secretary.