The most far-flung communities of Zhemgang have eagerly waited for the day when all their homes are lit-up and the villages are no longer the dark desolate picture of backwardness.
The communities in the remote and poverty-stricken dzongkhag remained highly expectant when power supply was announced to be transmitted from the source and to be switched on by 15 July this year. This was according to the contractual period.
The people of upper and lower Kheng have been waiting for more than a year now, preparing themselves to brighten their home. Many bought electrical fittings, wires, tube lights and electric bulbs in preparation.
However the signs of its arrival to illuminate the rural homes could not happen in time owing to the geographic location, inaccessible terrains and the absence of motorable roads. The regions of upper and lower Kheng targeted to be lit up is now delayed by few more months when in the first place it was already extended from scheduled time.
“The poles have been erected long time back and no wiring has been done yet,” Bardo Gup Kinzang Gurmey said. He said that the people were elated of electricity coming and was supporting the works but many times works get stalled.
He also said that no one is coordinating the work if contactor is not present in the site and such poor coordination delays the project besides the location of villages which is unavoidable.
The Contractor with Lhawang Construction Company, Sangay said with no bridge and an absolute need to carry huge electrification materials, it is the most arduous task in a region like Kheng for the laborers. He said that the materials cannot be carried laborers and transformers need to be ferried on boats while crossing Rindhibi River incurring extra costs.
He said that rural electrification is different from other any other project and is difficult to meet the time limit. “Works progress very slowly when required materials cannot reach the site, he said. Though people are elated with the prospect of electricity they are helpless when huge materials need to be carried to various sites.
Another bottleneck for electrification in far- flung areas is procurement of labors. The furthest village is about four days walk from the road point and not many laborers are willing to carry materials and work under such circumstances.
“The laborers have to carry 19 Transformers in various places climbing mountains and crossing rivers,” Sangay said. He said he is worried about how to carry the transformers to sites like to Bardo gewog which is about four days’ walk.
Sangay said that many laborers drop their work after reaching to certain distances and he has to look for another group of laborers who are willing to work till the end of the project in such remote places. “Some dropped their work without any notice and in one case, some of my workers has collected money from few households and disappeared,” said Sangay.
He said that he project was supposed to complete within 11 months but was unable due to the vast area and scattered settlement.
On a brighter note, villagers are paid certain amount depending upon the size of the hole they clear to erect electric poles while the electrical technicians toil on the technical works. This according to Sangay has helped the project to develop faster.
However electrification in lower Kheng region would complete within extended time and the upper Kheng would be completed by April next year. More than 16,000 households will benefit from this project.