A day has come

Both the Bhutanese and Indians have been waiting for the Bhutan-India gate to open. People had been asking, especially businessmen and residents of Jaigoan, “when Bhutan border will open?” Finally, on 23 September, just with a few days left, a day has come.

After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the India-Bhutan border gates at Samdrup Jongkhar and Gelephu along the Assam border and Phuentsholing border will reopen to tourists on 23 September.

Bhutan has closed down its border with India, restricting all international crossings with effect from March 2020, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, pandemic, affecting five districts in Assam.

The Royal Government of Bhutan, issued a public notification which stated, “In view of the rapidly evolving situation in the region regarding Covid-19 and to mitigate the risks posed by this pandemic, all international borders shall be closed with effect from 6am of March 23, 2020 until further notice.”

Earlier, the officials from the department of law and order, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs held a meeting with the Commandant of the 15th Battalion of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and in-charge of Regional Headquarters Neeraj Chand and all the SSB officials regarding the same.

Government of Bhutan has officially announced that the international border with India will be opened on Sept 23 as Covid cases have subsided to the Indian officials. The officials informed that Bhutan is preparing to open the border and give visitors a good experience.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering is visiting and meeting the dzongkhag officials, border related agencies and officials, business community and public. This is to create public awareness and monitor the situation to ensure safe, well-organized and comfortable passage into and out of Bhutan after opening borders.  

Bhutan encouraged Indian tourists to visit various locations in Bhutan after entering through the border gates. Bhutan’s government has planned eco-tourism, bird-watching, and other visitor packages and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been developed to ensure the smooth movement of travelers.

The border reopening will re-define bilateral relation between Bhutan and India. The trade of both the countries will be improved.

Bhutanese have been witnessing price hikes most in all the commodities with an increase in fuel price. Passage of goods will be eased with the reopening gates. Though it is not known whether the border is opened only for tourists or for others as well, however, the lives of people from both sides will improve.