Besides electricity, villagers are also awaiting payment for labour from BPC

Service: After years of anticipation, residents of Dorona Chungwa and Dorona Chewa in Dagana will finally be able to light their homes with electricity.

With all ground work completed the Bhutan Power Corporation plans to provide electricity to the last 39 households there by the first week of July.

With the completion of this project, almost all households of Dagana will have electricity. Dorona is the last gewog to receive electricity in the dzonkghag.

While people are excited about the coming of electricity, some are disappointed that the current provided will be “single phase”, which is a low voltage connection.

When Gok Bahadur Subba heard that the village would be electrified in 2012, he purchased electric mills for grinding maize and mustard when he had cash in hand. However, the mills will only be able to operate using the higher voltage “III phase” current.

Gok Bahadur Subba said that the coming of electricity means they will be able to cook rice in electric cookers and not have to use candles anymore. “More than just lighting homes, it lightens our works and eases it by many folds,” he said. “Our days of darkness are finally over.”

On not being able to use his electric mills, he said he is hopeful that once the village gets road connectivity the II phase power supply will be upgraded. “Until then I’ll take care of my mills,” he said.

Besides the electricity, the villagers are also eagerly waiting for payment for carrying poles and transformers to be used to connect their village to the electricity grid. Many had worked day and night.

Most of the individuals from 21 households of Dorona Chewa and 18 households of Dorona Chungwa provided labour after the contractor quit the project half way. But none of the villagers have been paid yet.

“Every villager is owed a minimum of Nu 10,000, some are owed as high as Nu 80,000,” one of the villagers said. “These are the amounts due since 2012.”

The villager added that with the project complete, they are expecting to receive their money soon.

Dorona Gup Bikash Gurung said that the 18-month rural electrification project of connecting Dorona gewog that began in 2012 took more than four years to complete. That was because after completing the connection of three chiwogs, the contractor quit.  Connecting the remaining two chiwogs had to be carried out jointly by the gewog and Bhutan Power Corporation.

The project was further delayed when villagers could not manually carry the transformer that weighed almost 480kg.  However it was eventually carried to the village. The walk to the village takes six hours from the gewog centre. Villagers took a week to bring the transformer to the village.

“Yes villagers did the majority of the work and it was only because of them that the last two chiwogs got electricity,” he said. “We’ve been discussing about their due payment with BPC, which will be rightfully paid to them.”

The gup said that in total the gewog is yet to receive payment of about Nu 2.4 million from BPC. As soon as the amount is received, the villagers will be paid, he said.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang