Himalayan Gateway Emerges: 1,000 sq km Green City at India Border

In a landmark announcement echoing through the Changlimathang stadium, His Majesty The King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck unveiled plans for a massive “international city” on the border with Assam, India. Spanning a staggering 1,000 square kilometers, the project, dubbed the Gelephu Smart City, promises to be a “point of inflection” and “transformation” for Bhutan and South Asia.

His Majesty The King, amidst thunderous applause from a 30,000-strong audience, painted a vision of a green metropolis seamlessly connected to Southeast Asia through a planned economic corridor. This corridor, he explained, would leverage the first-ever India-Bhutan railway line currently under construction and extend into roadways, border trade outlets, and crossing points with Assam and West Bengal. Ultimately, the King envisions this connectivity reaching across to Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Singapore, unlocking immense economic potential.

“Around two billion people live in South Asia,” he remarked, expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian government for their partnership in the railway project. This crucial link, he emphasized, would serve as the backbone of the Gelephu Smart City’s ambitions.

The city itself promises to be a beacon of sustainability, meticulously designed around the principles of “green development.” The King pledged to attract “quality investment” from “specially screened” international companies, prioritizing those aligned with Bhutan’s values of environmental conservation and cultural preservation.

While details remain under wraps, the Gelephu Smart City’s sheer scale and ambition have already captured imaginations across the region. Analysts foresee it acting as a catalyst for regional economic integration, boosting trade, creating jobs, and attracting foreign investment. Additionally, the focus on sustainability offers a promising model for urban development in harmony with the environment.

One thing is certain: the ambitious vision unveiled by King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has placed Bhutan firmly on the map of future-oriented development. The Himalayan kingdom, long known for its pristine landscapes and Gross National Happiness index, is poised to become a gateway to a dynamic and interconnected South Asia, potentially transforming the region’s economic landscape in the years to come.

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