English | Dzongkha Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Gelephu: Next commercial hub in the making

By Pema Samdrup, Gelephu
Jan 30, 2012
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Gelephu is growing. And it is growing for good. After many years of neglect business opportunities are slowly opening up.

Observers say because of its topography and proximity to booming towns on the other side of the border, Gelephu is undoubtedly becoming the commercial hub of the central region.

Local residents say had it not been for the security reasons Gelephu today would be different. Aap Pema, 59, relates how people left the place for good and the town looked almost deserted. “There were hardly any people. Most of the shops remained closed and people dreaded to come to Gelephu.”

However, things are changing slowly and this time it is for good. Industries are moving south, markets are opening, trade with the neighbouring towns is increasing and even the farmers are becoming enterprising.

With an airport under construction, business people and the residents are equally excited. A 65 year old businessman, Gyeltshen, is a prominent businessman in Gelephu. “Gelephu is bustling with so many activities every year and many projects and constructions are in the pipeline,” he says.

In order to further boost the trade Gelephu hosted Trade Fair for the second time this week. Organised by the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), ‘the fair aimed to revamp economic and strengthen cross-border relationship,’ according to the Deputy Secretary General, Chandra.

“It is basically to develop linkages, business tie-ups and also to create some kind of exposure to the general public on goods and services available within the region.”

Many business enterprises- micro, small and medium enterprises from Bhutan and North-Eastern States of India participated in the event.

“Gelephu is centrally located and has easy access to any other materials required to organise the event,” says the Deputy General Secretary.

The organisers said that by organising such event, it would act as a catalyst for Gelephu in facilitating and promoting balanced national development.

“The two time trade fairs have tremendously helped to boost our economic and the relationship with the bordering State has really strengthened,” remarks Ugyen Rabten, a local businessman.

In order to further develop Gelephu, the BCCI plans to organise several parallel activities such as seminars on B2B market development model, launching of rural products and services, awareness creation programmes on health, social and backyard farms for rural populace, cultural evenings for exchange of cross-border cultures.

According to the Deputy Chief Minister of Assam, such fairs will not only strengthen neighbourly relations but also promote people to people contact. “Such fair should also be organised in Assam,” he said.

Of the total 80 projected exhibitors, around 25 firms and companies are expected from the North-Eastern states alone, 25 from other parts of India and the rest from Bhutan. Publicity is extensively carried out by the hosts.

The regional chapter of the Bhutan-India Friendship Association (BIFA) in Gelephu and Sarpang Dzongkhag will act as local promoters.

A businessman from Assam says that the two should equally develop business and economic opportunities in peaceful manner.

“We learn so many things through this trade fair and we could make close ties between Indian counterparts such as business plans,” says a local businessman.

With hydroprojects like Mangdechu, Punatsangchu and Chamkharchu coming up, Gelephu will no doubt become a gateway, making it another economic and commercial hub besides Phuentsholing. It is just a matter of time.







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