A pragmatic rule

Thimphu Thromde had made a made a very sensible rule. They have decided to penalize people who litter and put up posters in the city. But the most relevant is penalizing people who spit doma juice in public spaces and smear lime on the nearest pillar or wall. Every pillar in Thimphu city or for that matter, any Bhutanese town, is literally covered in lime smears.

This is one rule that will go down well both from the aesthetic and health point of views. Chewing doma is not only unhealthy it is a dirty habit even if it’s an age-old tradition. The rule is not against chewing doma, but making those who chew it responsible for the waste it generates.

Another idea that should be lauded is the idea of outsourcing the implementation part to a private company. Short with manpower, the Thromde will be challenged once the rule comes into force. If it is not implemented and remains a paper tiger like most of our rules, it will not serve the purpose. By outsourcing it to a private company, they are not only giving business to the company, but helping the government generate some jobs for school dropouts or for the young who have come to the capital city looking for greener pastures.

By allowing them to keep 50 percent of the penalty amount, monitoring will be efficient. We have many youth who are just strolling the same streets in the city. If they can be utilised, it will serve two purposes. To make it more efficient, perhaps the inspectors should be allowed to keep 20 percent of the fine collected from every offender.

The Thromde’s concern is to keep the city clean. If the rule is implemented efficiently, their objective will be met. We already have a solid waste management regulation. The problem is it was never implemented as intended. The city would have been a lot cleaner and the residents more aware had it been a success.

However, it is not late. The capital city is the most visited place and it should be the example for other smaller towns. Today, perhaps because it is easier to manage, some dzongkhags are cleaner and tidier than the capital city.

If the rule is to become a success, it needs the support of the public more than anything. Nobody likes being fined. But if you have violated a rule, it should be respected. This is where the support of law enforcers like that of the police’s is most needed. Offenders refusing to pay should be penalized further.

Property owners and those running businesses could help too. If they report to inspectors as and when they see violators, it will be the best awareness. That way we have many inspectors. However, before we start penalizing people, awareness is what people need. There should at lest be a month’s time to let people know about the new rule.

This will leave no room for “I didn’t know” excuse. And it should not be only in the capital. Local leaders, schools and other institutions could help spreading the message. The fine is not huge, but the benefits of abiding by the rule is.


2 replies
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    Call it a matter of culture, here is a true marriage between arecanut (doma) and betel leaf in our traditional habit of chewing. Add a bit of lime and tobacco; the result varies from health affects to the unwanted residual waste of juice that makes our cities or the neighbourhood stained a bit. So the initiative with the monetary fine and the proposed methods of its collection can only be potentially considered a positive effort.

    But there is more to consider. Both production and consumption of arecanut and betel leaf is restricted to a region consisting Indian sub continent, China and South East Asia. India produces 50-55% of world’s total arecanut while China comes second at 20-25%. But productivity of arecanut in China is more than double that of India. If well drained soils are considered best for arecanut production; betel leaves need tropical climate with higher rainfall. Betel leaf farming is also more labor intensive and with the leaves being perishable demands proper handling and maintenance in its storage and transportation. One can prefer to have the nuts dried, but not always the leaf.

    A betel leaf is supposed to have many more medicinal values compared to arecanut. But in our traditional betel nut chewing habit, not just the neighbourhood but probably even our health is getting stained the wrong way. Production of both arecanut and betel leaf involves considerable land and farmers in the region. Their economy is dependent on its consumption. We can always fine the ones who are not responsible for the way they are consuming it producing the unwanted residual waste. But is our farmers getting the due economic and social benefits from these crops?

      MIGNIEN says:

      From an econonmic point of view , i have never seen figures about the cultivation of leaf arecanut and betel leaf production . What is the weight of that production in the economic system of vegetable .
      And what is the possibility of exportation .
      The habit of spitting is unhealthy . And understable by tourist !
      In the poll joint in this article , i am astonish to see that 38% of voter are against implementation of lime smearing .
      To avoid spitting , i propose to constraint the spitters to wash themselves the wastes they have created on every public monuments ! Those habits are disgusting !


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