“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that where we live remain clean, safe, well organized, and beautiful, for all times to come”
His Majesty The King of Bhutan, address to the Nation, 109th National Day, 17 December 2016
It is about time Bhutanese respect the genuine concern remarked by His Majesty and not take His Majesty’s vision for clean society lightly. We are lucky to have such humble leadership with broad vision for Bhutanese and Bhutan.
We have Waste Prevention and Management Act of Bhutan 2009; Waste Prevention and Management Regulation 2012 of Bhutan; and Thimphu city have its own waste management rule titled Thimphu Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules and Regulations 2007. To add to all these wonderful rules, Bhutan introduced total plastic ban in 1999. During my yesteryears, I remember officials [not sure from which organization] imposing penalties to shopkeepers using plastic carry bags and also those using plastics to wrap doma khamtos. Had we continued to enforce plastic ban strictly, Bhutan would have been another country by now.Bhutanese at large has always been a “great” planner and law makers, but has always been bad implementer of what transcribed from the meeting or the plans. We somehow fail to continue what was initiated and leave the great initiatives to face natural and slow dead. We have many profound Acts and Rules, however we tend to implement what is inside the Acts and Rules for about a week and then forget after that. I suppose, it is a disease we have, which we fail to understand and accept it as our disease.
However, all efforts of government and private organizations seem to not work with Thimphu and rest of Bhutan decorated with trash. Don’t believe me – take a walk on the streets of Thimphu; check the drains of our city. I tried wherever possible to pick and deposit it in waste bins, but finding a waste bin is cumbersome in the morning. I suppose our shopkeepers are afraid of losing their waste bins as it can’t be seen in front of their shops early morning. All our city drains and drainage systems are clogged: a light shower today had Thimphu flooded, lucky that it wasn’t a prolonged one.Having said that, not all is lost. We have unwavering guidance and blessings from His Majesty coupled by bunch of great hardworking minds. My friend Mr. Karma Yonten came up with great concept of instituting Greener Way with a vision of forming One Stop Centre for Sustainable Waste Management Services and Solutions on 8th March 2010. Since then Greener Way contributed lot to recycling of wastes and minimizing the loads going to Memelakha. Then came Mr. Nedup Tshering, founder and executive director of Clean Bhutan Initiatives. Clean Bhutan Initiatives was formed on 6th February 2014 and registered as civil society organization on 11th November 2014 with a mission for ZERO waste by 2030. Besides these two pioneers, a private business firm [Barma Enterprises] started weekend cleaning of Thimphu from January 2016 with the volunteers and its employees. Mr. Sonam Tobgay, proprietor of Barma Enterprises cleaned whole area of Buddha point; Sangay-Gang; and areas between Taba and Thimphu since then. Besides the private entities, government offices also initiated many clean-up campaigns. National Environmental Commission Secretariat organizes cleaning activities frequently and recently Department of Forests and Park Services initiated nation-wide cleaning campaign on 9th day of every month from December 9, 2016.
Environmental inspectors are appointed with strong responsibilities and powers and some of the prime ones are:Curious, I checked Thimphu Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules and Regulations 2007. It is a well written rule and covers wide areas of waste management, but what caught my attention was Chapter II, clause 3, as it provides authority to appoint environmental inspectors.
– Power to levy fines to litter bugs
– Issue waste management penalty tickets
– Apprehend offender [if caught red-handed]
At this rate of population growth and haphazard waste disposal, Thimphu is pushing itself to a problem. It is about time that as a Bhutanese, we take pride in our country and make it clean and safe to live. Thimphu is home to 13% of Bhutan’s population and if everyone takes waste management seriously, making Thimphu waste free isn’t a herculean task. If Thimphubs can all agree on a date and undertake massive cleaning of city, Thimphu shall be back to its glory – and it must be repeated at-least a month for a year. If this can’t be done, every Thimphubs should make contributions of Nu. 100.00 each to Clean Bhutan or Thimphu Thromde, as it can turn out to be a big one if everyone contributes and help in keeping Thimphu clean.