India-Bhutan Current Affairs - 2019

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India, Bhutan, Nepal: Trans Border Conservation Park

A Memorandum of Understanding has been drafted by India, Nepal and Bhutan to create a trans-boundary wildlife conservation park. The park will include bio-diversity rich landscapes

Significance

Unlike other parks that are species oriented, this peace park will be landscape oriented. Such a kind already exists in Manas park region. However, only a part of the trans-boundary protected area in India and Bhutan is being conserved based on the landscape. In the new peace park, the entire park will have its conservation protocols completely based on landscape.

About the park

  • The park will be an extension of the Manas park
  • The initiative was started by India keeping in view the migratory wildlife species in the region, especially elephants.

Manas National Park

  • Manas National Park is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, Project tiger reserve and a biosphere reserve.
  • The park is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan.
  • It is home to many endangered species like Assam roofed turtle, golden Langur, hispid hare, pygmy hog.
  • The park is famous for its wild water buffaloes
  • It is located on the Manas river, a major tributary of Brahmaputra

Highlights: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bhutan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a two-day visit to neighbouring country Bhutan to explore ways to further strengthen and diversify bilateral partnership across several sectors. This is PM Modi’s 2nd visit to Bhutan and 1st since his re-election in May 2019. On reaching Thimphu (Capital of Bhutan), he was welcomed by Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of Bhutan and received a Guard of Honour.

Key Highlights of Visit

Sapling palnted at Bhutan’s historic Simtoka Dzong

PM Modi planted a Cypress tree sapling at historic Simtoka Dzong in Thimpu in presence of his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering. Simtoka Dzong is one of the oldest fortress in Himalayan nation. It was built-in 1629 by Shabdrung Namgyal, a Tibetan Buddhist lama who is regarded as unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state. Simtoka Dzong functions as a monastic and administrative centre.

720 MW Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant inaugurated

This hydroelectric plant is touted as a Bhutan-India friendship project. It is a 720MW run-of-river power plant built on Mangdechhu River in Trongsa Dzongkhag district of central Bhutan. It was developed by Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA). MHPA was jointly constituted by Indian and Bhutanese governments.

It is one of the major projects under Bhutan’s initiative to generate 10,000 MW hydropower by 2020 with support from Indian government. Most of the electricity generated by Rs 4,500-crore hydroelectric plant will meet energy requirements of Bhutan and surplus electricity will be exported to India. Stamps were also launched to commemorate 5 decades of India-Bhutan Hydropower cooperation.

RuPay Card launched

PM Modi launched RuPay Card in Bhutan by making a purchase at Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest dzongs in Bhutan. India announced that an additional $100 million will be available to Bhutan under SAARC currency swap framework to meet foreign exchange requirement.

Two countries signed 10 MoUs

India and Bhutan signed 10 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) to diversify the friendship in fields of space research, aviation, IT, power, education, science, technology and legal education.

Some of key MoU are:

  1. Power Purchase Agreement between PTC India Limited (PTC), the leading provider of power trading solutions in India and Druk Green Power Corporation Limited (DGPC) in Bhutan for Sale and Purchase of Mangdechhu Power.
  2. MoU between Bhutan’s Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on establishment of SATCOM Network for utilization of South Asia Satellite (also known as GSAT-9).
  3. MoU between Bhutan’s Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) and India’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau on cooperation on Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation.
  4. MoU for interconnection between National Knowledge Network (NKK) of India and Druk Research and Education Network (DREK) of Bhutan.