While Layaps are hopeful that all their homes will be electrified in another seven to eight months if the climate bodes well, an official from the Rural Electrification Department (RED) under Bhutan Power Corporation limited stated that the project would meet its deadline only by June 2013.
“Unfavorable climate and lack of motorable road might halt works,” said the RED official who declined to be named.
According to him, taking materials all the way from Gasa till Laya manually is too difficult and time-consuming due to the rugged topography.
On top of that, he said that most developmental activities are sprouting up simultaneously, thus there is limited skilled manpower.
“It is obvious that we have to depend on foreign workers who find it tough to adapt to the climatic conditions and above all, we are facing a rupee shortage.”
As of March 2011, 73% of homes were electrified as per the government’s 10th five year plan mandate of “electricity for every home”.
Gasa MP Damchoe Dorji stated that a total of Nu 90 mn is allocated for the works – the Austrian government contributed Nu 60 mn and the royal government Nu 30 mn.
And although there are many challenges, BPC started with the works such as the tendering process and supply of equipments last month.
About 90% of equipment is being procured and 40% of the materials have already reached Gasa.
“From Gasa, materials will be transported on horseback by the Laya community, crossing 45 km,” said Kinley Dorji.
Before, the Laya community depended on solar light installed in the 1990s under DANIDA financing.
Unsure as it is whether Laya will be fully electrified by this year, people in Laya are already in a celebratory mood, said Karma, a Laya resident, over the phone.
“If there is electricity in every home, we can maintain higher standards of living and avoid diseases, particularly sore eye that is caused by using lanterns,” said Karma.
Meanwhile, Chencho from Laya said that she will be able to weave woolen cloth (sheep and yak fur) even at night.
“We would definitely set up small cottage industries like dairy farm processing unit if electricity reaches Laya,” said Damchoe Dorji.
The Laya gup added that a manufacturing unit for incense sticks would be established soon.
Deputy Manager of RED, Jigme Sherub, said that they have procured an extra transformer which is insulated against cold so that flow of electricity would not be disrupted.