Electrification of Laya likely to be delayed further
The electrification project that began in 2012 is already delayed by three years
Electricity: The remote highlanders of Laya gewog rejoiced after it was announced at the recent midterm review that the gewog would receive electricity by June this year.
However, unknown to the highlanders, transmission lines and poles at the project site were damaged last week which could cause a further delay.
The effort to provide Laya with electricity began in 2012.
When workers of the contractor, Chogyal construction, went to resume the electrification works, transmission lines and poles that were completed earlier were found to have been damaged.
Following which, the site engineer of the electrification work along with the Gasa dzongdag, local leaders and National Environment Commission officials visited the site for inspection on April 4.
Site engineer Namgay Dorji attributed the damage to the second phase of the road construction work to Laya. About 2.5km of transmission lines and 28 poles located around 18km from Gasa were damaged.
“The entire transmission line will have to be restored again,” Namgay Dorji said. “As the damage was caused by the road construction works, we’ve written to the dzongkhag.”
Namgay Dorji said that the electrification works within the gewog area were completed save for some lines that were destroyed by snowfall, which also requires repair. “As of now, about 85 percent of the electrification works has been completed,” he said.
Namgay Dorji also said that the remaining works including restoration of the recent damages would be possible only if the contractor deploys 20 to 25 more workers. Currently, there are only six workers deployed at the site. “We have informed the contractor to bring more workers and to speed up the work,” he said.
It has been more than three years since the electrification works to connect the 200 households in Laya to the electricity grid started. The contractor was awarded the work for Nu 13.6 million. It was supposed to have been completed in a year.
Bhutan Power Corporation’s (BPC) deputy manager of rural electrification and construction, Jigme Sherub said the contractor was suspended for three months and given a time extension of 127 days given extreme weather conditions, after he failed to complete the work in one year.
“When the contractor failed to complete the works even after the time extension, he was imposed a fine as per the contract term, which is 10 percent of the total cost,” Jigme Sherub said.
However, BPC officials pointed out that the contractor also faced issues such as shortage of manpower and workers not able to work in extreme weather conditions. There were also incidents where completed transmission works were damaged by natural calamities like snowfall and landslide on various locations.
Laya Gup Kinley Dorji said when the electrification work began the Layaps were excited and worked hard to transport the materials from Gasa to Laya. Most equipment was transported on horses, for which they were paid Nu 400 a day per horse. Helicopters were also used to transport some of the equipment. “When the contractor failed to pay the workers and the porters, people refused to work,” he said.
The issue was even raised during the recent mid-term review where people informed Lyonchoen of not being paid by the contractor. The contractor owes about Nu 400,000 in labour charges.
The list of people to whom the contractor owes money has been submitted to the prime minister’s office and the issue is being followed up on.
Jigme Sherub said that as the issue is between the contractor and the people, BPC is not involved in the picture. BPC could intervene by paying from the contractor’s final bill, which would be possible only if the contract is not terminated.
Hoping to receive electricity in 2012 itself, many Layaps started to buy electric household items since then. However the wait was longer than they expected. Currently, the majority of the houses use solar electricity that is not a reliable source of energy, many layaps said.
Consultation time for mothers halved
Her Majesty Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck, co-chair of Bhutan Foundation, hands over state-of-the-art medical equipment worth Nu 1.5 million to the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Maternal and Child Clinic in honour of the birth of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey
Consultation time for mothers halved
…with Nu 1.5M worth of medical equipment donated
Health: To honour the birth of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey, the Bhutan Foundation gifted state-of-the-art medical equipment worth Nu 1.5 million to the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Maternal and Child Clinic yesterday.
Her Majesty Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck, co-chair of the foundation handed over medical equipment to the President of the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital yesterday evening.
“All of this has been possible due to the steadfast support of the board, all our supporters and friends of Bhutan,” Her Majesty Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck said. “They have not only supported our programmes financially, but have invested their time, energy and emotions into each of these projects,” Her Majesty added.
“As Bhutan progresses into the 21st century, it is imperative that our people possess the necessary skillsets to enable us to not just survive but thrive.”
The medical equipment includes a Doppler Ultrasonogram, a Photometer for Haemoglobin Estimation, and a Transcutaneous Bilirubinometer.
The instruments are more advanced than those the clinic already has, doctors said. The clinic has only one set each of the instruments.
With the new medical equipment, doctors said waiting time for pregnant mothers would be halved.
“Pregnant women need not wait for more than 30 minutes for consultation at the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Maternal and Child Clinic hereafter,” the head of the family medicine unit of JDWNRH, Dr Pelgay Jamyang said.
The donation of the equipment was made possible with support from the Hoch family. Lisina M Hoch is one of the founders of the Bhutan Foundation and has provided significant support to strengthen Public Health and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the country.
A total of 8,073 ultrasonogram examinations were conducted in 2015, 89 percent for antenatal patients and 11 percent for postnatal patients.
The clinic sees more than 2,000 new cases every year.
The new ultrasonogram has better resolution and reliability, as it provides visuals in colour unlike the black and white version that exits in the clinic.
“The equipment will enhance the quality of care and contribute to the health and wellbeing of our women and children,” president of JDWNRH, Lhab Dorji said.
Dr Pelgay Jamyang said that each pregnant mother has to undergo ultrasound to follow the progress of the baby and also for the safety of the mother.
“The additional equipment will improve on the efficiency of the clinic in delivering better services,” Dr Pelgay Jamyang said.
Ultrasonogram services have been routinely provided to expectant mothers since 2002.
The clinic had to employ the lengthy process of checking the haemoglobin content in blood of the mothers whenever its Haemolglobin Photometer broke down.
“It would at least take half an hour for each individual to process the test without the equipment,” Dr Pelgay Jamyang said. The new Haemoglobin Photometer will help assessing the iron deficiency in pregnant women faster and accurately.
The equipment helps in the early diagnosis of anemia and provides an opportunity to remedy the situation and prevent progression of the condition.
The Photometer is a modern version that will allow quick, valid and reliable estimation of Haemoglobin status.
The Transcutaneous Bilirubinometer (TCB) is handy in determining if newborn babies have contracted jaundice. The hand-held, non-invasive device is used to estimate serum bilirubin in newborn babies.
A total of 1,348 cases of neonatal jaundice cases were reported in 2015.
Unlike the usual physical evaluation, the TCB can provide accurate serum levels. “It can cause brain damage to children if the serum bilirubin exceeds the limit,” the doctor said.
The TCB aids in preventive screening and timely management during the early postnatal period.
“We’d like to thank for the equipment and assure that these will be used properly,” Dr Pelgay Jamyang said. “They’ll go a long way in improving the health of mothers and children of our country.”
The foundation, which is an American not-for-profit organisation, contributes to strategies of conservation of the environment, equitable and sustainable development, good governance, and preservation of culture in Bhutan.
It works in partnership with the Department of Culture, Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment, Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy, and Dhungsel Spa.
Ass. Amici del Bhutan - Italy