Most of our rural villages now have electricity. Chiwogs under Shingkhar Gewog in Zhemgang Dzongkhag finally got theirs on November 11, 2015, coinciding with the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan.
It was the biggest gift of the century for the farmers in this part of the Kingdom.
Although power outage is more frequent than wild boar visiting their farmlands, villagers have nothing but gratitude to the government for lighting their homes. But the biggest impact of electrification is on our environment. Pressures on our forest have significantly dropped now that farmers no more need to cut down trees for firewood. And also the need to burn kerosene fuel to light a home is next to nil. I am sure smokes from kerosene is harmful to people’s health.
Thanks to electricity, today not many people use wood-fed mud-stoves. They are now concerned more of how and where they would refill their LPG cylinders. It is a lifesaver, especially in summers when it rains and dry firewood is rare to find in the forest. And now that most people do not rely on firewood, LPG cylinders do the job when lights go out. It is sad that our young people may never get to see mud-stoves except in the museums, but we must move on. Our farmers are doing that.
The fact that now a rough road connects the village to the bigger world outside, it makes transporting commodities like LPG cylinders and vegetable oil easier. This calls for a better road facility – the fact that people need to travel more outside their villages to transact more things. Right now it is a tough ride home for most villagers, in summer.
Of course, now that the road has come, our farmers are equally worried for their forest. Like elsewhere in the country government agencies like NRDCL will soon exploit their forest resources and transport them all to the urban centers. I can’t agree more with their wisdom and premonition.
How long and tall will our trees stand?