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| Last Updated:22/01/2014

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Trash talk or Clean-up time

kuenselonline.com, 21 January 2014

 

Clean Thimphu, Green Bhutan … sounds familiar!

 

Keeping the capital city green and clean, Thimphu thromde’s slogan, has been the biggest challenge. This is evident from the clogged drains, overflowing trash bins, garbage strewn all over the place, and rivers being used as a dumpsite.

 

The irony is that the problem was identified decades ago, when it was manageable. A lot has changed since then – population, settlement, and consumption pattern – except the garbage problem. Not to belittle the thromde’s effort, Thimphu just couldn’t get rid of its waste problem.

 

Therefore, the latest attempt through the two projects – Clean Bhutan and Green Thimphu – is a welcome move to make the capital city clean, and Bhutan zero waste, whatever than means, by 2030.

 

Cleaning up the city we live in is yet to be a part of our psyche. All this while, it has been a one-way approach, with the municipal office trying to clean the dirt, which everyone keeps leaving behind. The capital city is overwhelmed by garbage and our landfills are filled beyond their capacity.

 

The green Thimphu project is yet another effort to make the capital clean before the 60th birth anniversary of The Fourth Druk Gyalpo. There is a target and this may be possible, but what about beyond November 11, 2015?

 

From past experience, we have seen the capital’s residents participate in mass cleaning campaigns, only to return to square one once the campaigns end. It is said that Bhutanese are used to cleaning up only on occasions. Therefore, we have our towns, dzongs, institutions and schools change overnight, when they prepare to receive a VIP.

 

However, we can be optimistic with the two projects as they are targeting behavioural change, which is the need of the hour. We can understand a village simpleton not caring about trash, but when the so-called educated, who are well exposed and much travelled, do it, it is a big problem. A change in our mindset would be the cheapest solution to an expensive problem.

 

Going by the giant gunnysacks filled with pet bottles, and bundles of cardboard boxes hanging from the thromde’s garbage truck, the capital’s residents are not even aware of waste segregation at source. This is after repeated announcements and campaigns. On an average, the garbage collector takes 10 to 20 minutes to sort out the garbage at every stop.

 

The two projects have government backing and may work. A long-term solution could be looking into the possibility of privatising waste management. Some university graduates are already mulling over taking up the city’s waste problem as a business. They should be encouraged and supported.

 

Thimphu’s busy residents wouldn’t mind paying a few hundred ngultrums, if somebody is willing to take care of their garbage. This will keep waste out of public space, and extend the life of our landfills.


Source:www.kuenselonline.com/trash-talk-or-clean-up-time/#.Ut-EkNK6bDe