• The informal trade between Assam and Bhutan, disrupted by insurgency, took a formal shape with the inauguration of a border trade centre at Darranga on Wednesday.
• About 90 km north of Guwahati, Darranga in Baksa district under the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) adjoins Samdrup Jongkhar,
• It’s a major trade point in southern Bhutan.
• Besides oranges and potatoes, Bhutan exports some items produced by five industrial units near Samdrup Jongkhar.
• They include gypsum, ferro-silicon and iron nails.
Attraction: cheap fuel
• For Indians, the real big attraction across the border is not iron and nails but is fuel — ironically imported from India.
• A litre of diesel and petrol in Bhutan averages Rs. 54 and Rs. 59, respectively, about Rs. 20-25 cheaper than the nearest oil outlet in Assam, where a litre of diesel is about Rs. 75 and petrol is Rs. 84.
• Cheaper fuel across the border is probably the reason why we do not have a fuel outlet despite the town developing into a major trade centre.
• The trade centre was completed in 2016-17 with Rs. 14.03 crore from the Centre under the Assistance to States for Development of Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities scheme.
• The centre started in 2017-18 to notch up Rs. 234.74 crore in exports to and Rs. 126.96 crore in imports from Bhutan.
Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC)
Mains level: Indian fuel from Bhutan at Darranga in Assam