Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul on Friday has stated that direct road link from Tawang to Guwahati through Bhutan’s territory would not only cut down travel time but also strengthen socio-economic ties with the Himalayan kingdom.
‘Currently, people travelled from Tawang to Guwahati and vice-versa through Sela Pass, which often gets blocked due to heavy snow cover during the winter months and landslides in rainy season,’ informed Pul while interacting with Jaideep Sarkar, Indian ambassador to Bhutan, adding, ‘Direct road can cut down travel time by about six hours and increase socio-economic activities between Bhutan and Northeastern India.’
Pul further added that development of the route via Tashigang in Bhutan and Darranga in Assam would enable agriculture and horticulture export from Lumla sub-division, along with the newly created Bongkhar circle of Tawang, ‘While it requires construction of only a 15-km stretch between Lumla in Tawang and Tashigang in Bhutan, once operational, it will cut down travel distance between Tawang and Guwahati by almost 200 kms.’
While the distance between Tawang and Guwahati via Tezpur is only 503 kms, the sharp gradients and elevation between Bhalukpong and Tawang makes it one of the most challenging roads in the Himalayas. Sela Pass, which is about 60 kms short of Tawang on the other hand, is the most difficult stretch at an elevation of 4170 metres.
‘Arunachal and Bhutan share more than just a border, so we can also share cultural and religious histories, particularly the communities living in Tawang and West Kameng,’ Pul asserted. The chief minister also suggested for creation of Bhutan-Arunachal circuit in order to increase tourist inflow to Arunachal Pradesh directly through the Himalayan kingdom with which it shares 160 km international boundary.