Gasa’s power predicament in the summer

Power disruptions during the rainy season is not new. It is understandably to do with heavy rainfall causing landslides and along with it trees to fall causing faults in the transmission lines. In other words, when the land beneath the electrical poles give away, the poles collapse partially or wholly, causing the electrical lines to snap and break. Another scenario is when due to storm and rain trees fall and land on electrical lines and cause wires to break or damage other electrical fittings on the electrical poles that are necessary for a consistent supply of power to where the destination is. Additionally there are then other reasons like lightning, disruption at source, etc in addition. Without even trying to get into the technical aspect of supply of electricity, I am trying to understand Gasa’s predicament with frequent power blackouts. In that I want to thank the reporter for bringing out this issue in a recent edition of kuensel titled ‘Erratic supply irks people’. But this was not the first time the concern was raised. Another story a year earlier ‘Gasa groping in the dark’ described how consistently the power disruptions hampered civil servants from working. My familiarity with the area allows for me to speak with a little more understanding of the problem.

Gasa dzongkhag’s story of erratic power supply is as tragic as the story of it’s road. It’s today the only district with its administrative centre still not connected by a road. How and why it was not connected is an interesting question one may indulge in but for now, road connectivity’s relevance to power supply is to understand just how unstable the land there is (‘Remote get remoter’).

BPC officials said that the power problem in Gasa is caused because the power line to Gasa passes through rugged terrain and dense forests between Lobesa and Gasa (kuensel, july 17, 2009)

One can therefore understand why there are backouts in Gasa. While the landscape does not make the job any easier, one gets reminded of other places and regions that do not share the same kind of black outs. I may be too presumptions but I would think that there are other places posing similar challenges but stay electrified.

The general manager said that after learning the difficulties, BPC is planning to supply electricity from Pangrizampa in Thimphu till Tashithang in Gasa. “This will act as an alternative source,” he said. “We’re doing the feasibility study at present and, if possible, will use more reliable conductors.” (kuensel, september 16, 2010)

An alternate route by 2012 sounds like a good idea given the long stretch from lobeysa to tashithang but how about the rest of the way from tashithang upto gasa. There is still a good distance and remains equally exposed and susceptible. A covered wire may help with foreign objects coming in contact with transmission lines and disrupting power supply but still leaves with a high possibility of lines snapping because of several reasons. Given plans to connect Laya, it becomes even more important that this problem is resolved. Taking electricity to Laya on the current transmission line would mean another connected community on paper alone.

…BPC management is not ruling out the possibility to go for tower line… “It needs funding source to make the project viable,” he said. He said tower is not the ultimate solution, because landslide can also damage it. “Tower includes higher cost and there are less customers in Gasa,” he said.

It is interesting to know that tower transmission may not be completely out of the picture and that a big reason for which it may not appear in the plan seems to be the funding. Where millions have already been spent to uplift the quality of lives of hundreds and with wonderful results, it makes complete sense to continue with the program. The long term investment may seem less than significant to corporate digits but it certainly remains a crucial objective of an inclusive development policy which can not be weighed simply against profitability and returns on investment.


About Sangay Khandu

Elected to Parliament of Bhutan twice. Previously worked with the Central Bank, the largest SoE (power utility) and international organization.
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One Response to Gasa’s power predicament in the summer

  1. what ever dasho wrote was a nice one and thanks for appreciating ma work although i couldn’t go into much deeper since i m here and for that i need to interview people personally but i tried my best to bring out the darkness they are going through…..
    hopefully 2012 will surely bring them more light and happiness….

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