Lhakpa Quendren | Panbang 

Residents of remote areas of Panbang are not aware of what causes the frequent power cuts, but they are not happy with the blackouts.

Residents complain that they have been facing power cuts that last between 30 minutes and two hours and are frustrated with the erratic power supply. A teacher at Sonamthang Central School said that frequent power failure has become a routine. “The power outages occur three to nine times daily.”

“Frequent power outages are disturbing ICT classes for the students. In the school, everything depends on the power supply. We have been suffering from this problem for several years,” he said.

Besides regular lessons, power cuts, they said impact the learning atmosphere. “Temperature during summer can go up to 37 degree Celsius which makes life more difficult. Students find it difficult to cope with studies without fans in the classrooms.” 

The worst power cuts, according to residents, are observed in summer when, ironically, generation is at peak. “Although the concern was raised several times at both the gewog and dzongkhag level, it got no response,” said a resident.

Kinzang Dorji, who runs a bakery shop said that the power disruptions pose economic and social impacts on communities. “I had to go to India to repair my only bakery refrigerated display case after it was damaged by the power outage.”

He said that since baked goods and iced creams require continuous power supply, frequent power cuts are affecting their business.

Panbang’s Thromde Ngotshab (representative), Jampel Choeda, said that the frequent power disruptions have damaged electronics such as washing machines and televisions. “We received complaints. This is a concern in our community.”

Panbang BPC’s official said that the power outage issue would improve with the installation of what they call rod-to-rod electricity. “Since power transmission lines passes through thick jungles from Nganglam in Pemagatshel, it causes frequent power disruptions. We have applied for clearance and it should help.”

According to residents, the government rejected a request from the local government and the dzongkhag administration to establish a BPC sub-station in Panbang.

In November 2022, the minister for erstwhile economic affairs, Loknath Sharma, in the National Assembly, said that the construction of the power substation in Panbang would take at least three years and would cost about Nu 350 million.