A decade ago, Nar Bahadur Subba, 62, of Jiligang village in Tsirang’s Phungtenchu gewog received a single panel solar.

He was overjoyed to see his home lit.

He has been using the energy scarcely, lighting two bulbs only after dark until 10pm. The single panel also supports a mobile charging socket.

After the panel stopped functioning, he got a replacement in 2014.

Nar Bahadur uses firewood for cooking but has been looking forward to buying an electric rice cooker for a long time. “We were told we would receive electricity soon,” he said. “Our lives might be easier if we have electricity connection.”

There are at least four households in Jiligang without electricity. The adjacent villages, Dodamchen and Goentegkha have nine and five households respectively without grid electricity.

These villages of Norbugang chiwog are more than six hours walk away from the gewog centre.

Goentegkha tshogpa, Bir Dhoj Rai, said that although the villagers have a solar connection, it is not as beneficial as the main grid electricity.

He said villagers keep asking local leaders when their village would be electrified. “Without electricity connectivity, it impacts other developmental activities in the village.”

On the opposite of the valley, Sergithang gewog’s Norbugang chiwog also has at least 15 households without electricity. Villages like Arubotay, Tungpani, Majgaon, Teenkholay, Ngalalung, Tungba and Sakthang are without electricity until now.

Village tshogpa, Nar Bahadur Rai, said the villages have solar panels but most of it is damaged. “Villagers here struggle without electricity.”

Two villages of Arubotay and Tungpani got farm road connectivity last month.

The dzongkhag has at least 83 households without grid electricity.However, officials say most of them are connected with solar energy.

Of the 83 houses with electricity, 42 households are in Sergithang gewog, 20 in Phungtenchu, 14 in Patshaling and seven in Barshong gewog.

In a recent report, Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) reported that with the electrification of Soe and Lingzhi in Thimphu and Jigmecholing in Sarpang last year, 99.97 percent of the households in the country have been provided with electricity as of today.

The remaining 0.03 percent constitutes 300 households in Lunana.

BPC’s Divisional Manager in Tsirang Dil Kumar Rasaily said that those households connected with solar energy are also considered electrified.

“That was how Tsirang’s 83 non-electrified households got reflected as electrified. It is just that they do not have grid connection but their homes are lit with solar,” he said.

To provide electricity to the 83 households in Tsirang, a survey was carried out in 2016. Bhutan Power Corporation conducted a resurvey last year.

He said documents are being prepared to float tenders for the rural electrification project. he added the tender is expected to be floated beginning next year.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang