Waiting for electricity

Villagers left in the dark while the local BPC office awaits poles to connect them

BPC: Martshala gewog received electricity in 2005, but more than 30 households in the gewog are still without electricity.

The households belong to a group of villagers, who constructed their houses after the gewog was electrified in 2005. They were told that they would receive electricity after completing their house. Some were completed in 2008.

But according to the villagers, they didn’t receive electricity years after the gewog was connected through the rural electrification project. They have not complained to Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) that distributes electricity, but said they had repeatedly informed their gewog office through the village tshogpas. All they have been hearing is they will receive soon.

“We feel disappointed that some of us in the same gewog have to depend on a solar powered electricity and sometimes live in the dark,” farmer Namshi Dorji, 36, said. “Some don’t even have solar panels.”

The farmer said some even closed their poultry farms that required electricity. A few others have already bought electric appliances while some take theirs to neighbours with electricity.

“We still depend on earthen stove, firewood and kerosene lamp, although, we’ve biogas but sometimes we can’t use because it requires huge quantity of cow dung,” Sangay Wangpo, a farmer said. “We were given maize mill to feed jersey but we’ve still not been able to use because it there is no electricity to run the mills.”

Martshala gup, Yenten Dorji said that although the gewog’s electricity coverage is 98 percent, some are not connected with electricity. He said he had written three times to the BPC office in Samdrupcholing dungkhag.

“I didn’t receive any response so far, which is why I couldn’t answer the villagers,” he said.

The gup, however, said that it could be because some of the houses are scattered.

BPC’s assistant manager, Tshering Dendup, based in Samdrupcholing said that they were aware of the problems and that it was not only in Martshala. He said Pemathang and Phuntshothang gewogs in the same dungkhag faced the same problems.

Tshering Dendup said it was difficult to supply electrify because it requires additional electric poles and the corporation had to see the location of the houses.  As per the system, he said, if the house is located within the 40 metres of existing electric poles, they can supply electricity immediately but houses that are located more than 80 metres would need new poles.

“Based on the requirements, we’ve already put up requisition of about 50 electric poles almost a year back. We’re still waiting for the poles,” he said. “Otherwise, we would have electrified immediately but we assure once the poles are here, we would definitely connect them.”

Yangchen C Rinzin, Samdrupcholing

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