People of Lauri gewog in Jomotshangkha drungkhag, Samdrupjongkhar can now market and sell their goods and services produced in the villages online using internet service.

With the 3G service launched in Lauri gewog on January 4, the 11 gewogs in Samdrupjongkhar are now connected with 3G services.

Pema from Lauri said with developments in technology, most people in the community are using smartphones but it’s of no use because they couldn’t avail internet services. “We can now pay our electricity bills and loan repayments among others through mBoB without visiting the banks and other agencies,” she said.

Karma, 38, said that since Lauri is one of the remotest gewogs in Samdrupjongkhar, there are no development activities taking place in the gewog. People in the gewog grow chirata and cardamom among others but are left without a market.

“We contact our clients in India through the phone but we cannot afford to call always because the calling charge is high. But now we will be able to market and sell our products in neighbouring towns like Udalguri in Assam and Kalaktang in Arunachal Pradesh,” Karma said, adding they can also advertise on social media.

Lauri mangmi, Norzang Tenzin, said there is Internet service in the gewog office but it becomes slow sometimes and hampers official work during emergencies. “With the 3G service in the gewog, we can now do our official works even using cellphones,” he said.

The Bank of Bhutan (BoB) sponsored about Nu 1.5 million to procure the 3G equipment in collaboration with Bhutan Telecom (BT) to upgrade the existing mobile connectivity. The project is one of the initiatives for the golden jubilee celebrations of the BoB.

BoB officials said Lauri gewog was selected because it was one of the remotest and underdeveloped gewogs. BoB wanted to bring internet connectivity through BT’s 3G service so that the people in the gewog could avail banking services.

An authorized BoB connect agent provides basic banking services of cash deposit, cash withdrawal, fund transfer, BoB & National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF) loan repayments, mobile recharge, electricity payments and also accepts BoB cheque deposits and loan applications.

Officials said with the introduction of data services, Lauri gewog would benefit in many other ways such as encouraging financial inclusion of the community by educating the community on the importance of banking and savings.

Lauri gewog has five chiwogs with 545 households consisting of a total population of around 4,601.

Kelzang Wangchuk | Lauri