New Delhi: The plan of creating an India-Bhutan railway route is underway to establish connectivity between the two nations. Besides, the study to understand its viability has been initiated. Two days ago, China once again proclaimed Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan. Moreover, by proclaiming the land of Bhutan that shares a border with Arunachal Pradesh, China is attempting to pressurise India. Also, it is trying to raise its influence on Bhutan. Against this background, India is working on various projects to increase its connectivity with Bhutan. Thus, the proposal for the railway project holds significance.
A few days ago, the Bhutan trade route, which ranges from Jaigaon in West Bengal to the Bhutan Pass, was inaugurated. Moreover, the news had also surfaced that India proposed a new route to Bhutan from Guwahati to Tawang that passes via Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. This would ease strategic route for India and also quicken the deployment of its armed forces at the border near Arunachal Pradesh. Now, India is thoughtful about railway connectivity.
The proposed railway route starts from Mujnai in West Bengal to Nyoenpaling in Bhutan. Furthermore, the Land Ports Authority of India is also planning to develop an integrated check-post in Alipurduar district, West Bengal. Also, Bhutan has presented a proposal to build a permanent Land Customs Station (LCS) to India.
As per Chinese claim, the border with Bhutan is indefinite, but there is a conflict on central, eastern and western borders. Efforts are being made to resolve this border conflict. However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry was against making it a multilateral conflict. China has directed this statement to India. China objects the fact that India handles foreign affairs and defence for Bhutan.
It has become difficult for China to acquire the piece of Bhutanese land as India is handling border security for Bhutan. In 2017, China was trying to construct a road in the Bhutanese region via Doklam, but the Indian Army had countered China at the time. China had to retreat due to India’s strict policy. The claim of China over Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan, following the battle in Galwan Valley, Ladakh clears that it is making efforts to target India. Against this background, the Indian efforts to establish and increase connectivity in Bhutan stand significant.