Scheduled to end by 2013, the programme faced a host of problems, causing the delay

Electricity: After more than a year of delay, the rural electrification (RE) project for Serthi and Lauri gewogs in Samdrupjongkhar is expected to complete this month.

Although all the villages of the two gewogs are yet to be electrified, a total of 526 households in 20 villages in Serthi and Lauri gewogs, among the most remote in the country, are now connected with power.

Eleven gewogs in Samdrupjongkhar are now connected with electricity.  The two gewogs are in Samdrupcholing dungkhag.

Last month, 187 households in nine villages, including the gewog office in Lauri, received power, while 339 households in 11 villages in Serthi gewog were connected in December last year.

However, Bhutan Power corporation is yet to connect 55 households in three villages in Serthi gewog, and another 397 households in 11 villages in Lauri.  The project is expected to complete connecting the homes with power by the end of this month.  The project began in 2012 and was supposed to complete by 2013.

Regional manager Kuenzang Dorjee said the RE project includes electrification of 587 households in Lauri and 394 households in Serthi.  The project also includes electrifying part of Merak gewog with 11 households by April.

He said the RE work has almost completed its “test charge supply”, but most of the beneficiaries in the two gewogs have not carried out the internal wiring.

“We’ve reminded them to do so because, if they don’t install the wirings, then we can’t connect their homes with electricity,” he said, adding all households have been asked to complete by this month.

The electricity for the Nu 155.7 million Lauri and Serthi RE project is supplied from Dewathang substations passing through Phuntshothang and Samrang gewog in Samdrupcholing dungkhag.

The regional manager road access, non-availability of labourers, monsoon and geographical terrain had caused the project to delay.  About 82 distribution transformers have been installed and a helicopter was hired to transport the materials.

Meanwhile, villagers said they do not have to worry about depending on kerosene lamp s or fetching firewood anymore.  “After I saw my neighbour using a rice cooker, I asked my friend in Thimphu to get one for me,” a farmer Cheki Gyeltshen said. “We’ve carried poles and walked uphill for days, but when I look at the benefits, it was worth it.”

Lauri gup Pema Dhendup said the coming of electricity had also eased office work in many ways. “Now with computers and printers, we don’t have to write any letters manually or use carbon paper like before,” gup said.

By Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar