Bhutan's PM to visit India from Jul 14-17

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New Delhi, Jul 11 (UNI) Bhutan's Prime Minister Lyonchen Jigmi Y Thinley, will arrive here on July 14 on a four-day State visit, his first outside Bhutan after the country's transition to democracy from 100 years of monarchical rule.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Economic Affairs Minister Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuck, Foreign Minister Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering, Finance Minister Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu and senior officials.

During the visit, the Bhutanese Prime Minister will call on President Pratibha Patil and Vice-President Hamid Ansari.

He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Leader of the Opposition L K Advani and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia will call on him.

The Prime Minister will host a State Banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary.

''India and Bhutan share a very special relationship which has roots in our history and culture and has found new dynamism in mutually beneficial cooperation. This relationship is characterised by close consultations, mutual trust and understanding. It is further sustained by the tradition of regular visits and exchange of views at the highest levels between the two countries,'' an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said today.

Meanwhile, the Bhutanese Foreign Ministry today refuted a report published in an Indian newspaper that the Kurichhu dyke is a threat to the water level of the Manah and Beki rivers that flow through Assam.

The June 26 edition of an Assamese newspaper in an article 'Panic in state over Bhutan water release' stated that the countdown for a great flood had begun in Barpeta and Baksa as the water level of Manah and Beki began to rise obviously due to the release of excess water from the Kurichhu dyke in neighbouring Bhutan.

The Bhutanese Foreign Ministry said the Kurichhu Hydropower project is a run-of-the-river and not a storage scheme. It said a small diversion dam merely diverts water for generating electricity.

''The normal average discharge in Kurichu during monsoon is about 1,200 cusecs. The project has neither the need nor the facility to regulate the flow of river. Any high discharge that may occur in the Kurichhu is entirely related to the natural flow on the account of precipitation over which the Kurichhu hydropower corporation has no control.'' The Ministry said.

India and Bhutan have an effective flood information sharing system whereby Bhutan notifies Barpeta and Nalbari in Assam and Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal at regular intervals on the water level in Bhutan.

Both countries have a problem-free relationship. Bhutan a few years back launched a military operation against ULFA militants who had set up camps in Bhutanese territory adjoining India.

India is involved in several developmental works in Bhutan.


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