Earlier this week, photographs of Japanese team bowing out of the World Cup after cleaning their dressing room grabbed headlines. The team lost,but they made their country proud.
Around the same time, back home, Choekor Gewog in Bumthang hosted cordycep auction for two days. When the auction closed, the place was strewn with litter.
A day later, the auction moved to Wangdue and the event left behind more garbage in Phobjikha valley.
Leaving behind trash, especially in public places, comes naturally to the Bhutanese. We are mere spectators when it comes to waste management. The Clock Tower Square in Thimphu was strewn with garbage after the finals of the Druk Super Star recently. It was cleaned up two days later after netizens started sharing photographs on social media.
The organisers of these events and everyone involved, including the vendors, have shamed the country. They failed to clean up the mess they were responsible of creating. It is an irony that one of the agencies involved in organising the auction, the department of forests, holds a cleaning campaign every ninth day of the month. It is sad that we borrow the concepts of reality shows and commercialise it but do not imbibe the values of keeping our surroundings clean.
In Bumthang, Clean Bhutan’s coordinator got together some volunteers to clean up the place after the organiser sought help. The 10 volunteers were paid Nu 5,000. Phobjikha valley has no Clean Bhutan coordinator but it was learnt that local authorities came together to clean the area. At the Clock Tower Square, the Druk Star organiser paid Nu 5,000 to volunteers to collect the trash. It is reported that the organisers of the on-going month-long youth event at the square, Norling Events, is paying Nu 1,000 a day to the 10 volunteers it has hired.
Often it is students who end up cleaning up the mess the adults leave behind. Students of Jigme Losel Primary School recently cleaned up the Changlingmithang Stadium in Thimphu. Our football fans, enthusiasts and the football federation have much to learn from these children.
Roping in volunteers to clean up a place may appear good but this practice is just as unsustainable as the cleaning campaigns institutions organise. Cleaning campaigns are held to create awareness in the community to keep their surroundings clean. But instead of educating the literate community, these campaigns have made the communities more complacent. They realise that there is always someone who will organise such campaigns.
Cordycep auction will be held in Gasa, Paro, Thimphu, Lhuentse, and Trashiyangste. It is imperative that local government authorities inform the organisers to leave the venue of the auction clean. Authorities such as Thimphu Thromde should start penalising event organisers who hire the Clock Tower Square or the Changlingmithang Stadium‘s parking space by imposing monetary fines by the day for not cleaning up the garbage. The polluter pay principle that was initiated years ago but was poorly implemented needs to be revived and strictly enforced.