ICT: In what should provide easier access to public services for some of Bhutan’s remotest communities, the gewogs of Laya, Lingzhi and Soe in Thimphu are expected to be connected with electricity by next year.

This means that the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) will be able to establish community centres in the three gewogs, from where G2C (government-to-citizen), banking, insurance, and pension services, among others, can be accessed.

During the midterm review of the information and communications ministry, it was pointed out that establishing community centres in five of Bhutan’s most remote gewogs, including Naro in Thimphu and Lunana in Gasa was unaffordable.

It was estimated that Nu 4 million would have to be spent to provide solar equipment for each gewog, and that another Nu 4 million, double the cost of centres built elsewhere, would have to be spent on constructing the centres as the gewogs are not accessible by road.

However, with electricity now coming to three of the gewogs, the cost of establishing a centre would be halved.

“We have been informed that Laya gewog will be electrified by  April 2016,” DITT ICT officer, Jamyang Sonam said. The department expects to establish a centre in Laya by next year.

“The work for electrification in Lingzhi and Soe is in progress and expected to be completed by June 2017,” he added.

The ICT officer said that feasibility studies are also being carried out to connect Naro gewog.

“Considering this, we will establish community centres in these gewogs depending on the resources made available to us,” Jamyang Tashi said. “Further to reduce the overall establishment expenditure, we are also thinking to use the existing government space in the gewogs,” he added.

However, there are no plans to connect Lunana to the electricity grid yet. “We still have to consider using the alternative source of power,” Jamyang Tashi said.

Gyalsten K Dorji