Modi inaugurates ISRO's ground station in Bhutan

PM Narendra Modi and Bhutan counterpart Lotay Tshering jointly inaugurating the Ground Earth Station & SATCOM network, for utilization of South Asia Satellite in Bhutan. (Twitter/PIB_India)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated a “ground earth station” of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in Thimphu as he commenced a two-day visit to Bhutan. 

Modi was joined by Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering to inaugurate the “ground earth station”, which the ISRO built in Thimphu at the cost of Rs 7 crore to help Bhutan take advantage of the South Asia Satellite launched by India in 2017. The two Prime Ministers witnessed signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ISRO and Department of Information Technology and Telecom of the Bhutanese Government on establishment of SATCOM network for utilization of the South Asia Satellite. 

The meeting between two Prime Ministers was followed by signing of altogether 10 pacts. Prime Minister also called on King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his father and former ruler of the country, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, on Saturday. 

The National Law School of India University in Bengaluru inked an MoU with Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law of Bhutan for enhancing cooperation and academic exchange in the areas of legal education and research. Modi also launched RuPay card in Bhutan, which became the second foreign country where the card was rolled out. Singapore was the first foreign nation to have RuPay cards.  

“This (ISRO's “Ground Earth Station”) will increase coverage of communication, public broad-casting and disaster management in Bhutan,” Modi said addressing media persons with Tshering. He added that India would provide Bhutan with additional bandwidth and transponders so that it could take advantage of the South Asia Satellite. “Both countries will also cooperate in the construction of small satellites and the use of space technology.” 

Though the ISRO officially maintains that its “ground station” in Bhutan was intended to help the tiny nation take advantage of the South Asia Satellite, sources in New Delhi told the DH that it was part of India's countermeasures to China's advanced satellite tracking station in Tibet. 

Modi and Tshering on Friday also inaugurated the 720 MW Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Power Plant, which India built in Bhutan. They witnessed signing of Power Purchase Agreement between PTC India Limited and Druk Green Power Corporation Limited for sale and purchase of electricity generated by the newly built power plant. Prime Minister noted that India and Bhutan had together “transformed the power of the rivers” into not only electricity, but also mutual prosperity. “With the cooperation of both countries, hydropower generation capacity in Bhutan has crossed 2000 MW. I am confident that we will also take other projects forward very fast,” said Prime Minister. 

The National Knowledge Network of the National Information Centre under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of the Government of India inked an MoU with Department of Information Technology and Telecom (Druk Research and Education Network) of Bhutanese Government. 

The Royal University of Bhutan inked four MoUs for cooperation with Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and National Institute of Technology at Silchar in Assam. An MoU was also inked between MoU between National Judicial Academy in Bhopal and Bhutan National Legal Institute on cooperation in judicial education and mutual exchanges. 

Modi also conveyed to Tshering New Delhi's decision to enhance supply of LPG from India to Bhutan from 700 MT to 1000 MT per month. 

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