Gayleena Pradhan | Intern

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism sector was alleged as the main polluter along the trekking trails, but waste along the trekking trails did not get any lesser even when the country did not receive any international or regional tourists for more than two years.  

Trash strewn along the trails is still a problem, if not worse.

 The executive director of the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators, Sonam Dorji, said travel agents adopted the trails and cleaned it frequently when the country was frequented by tourists.

He also said that tour guides bring back waste and also emptied trash cans placed along the trails during tourist season.

Sonam Dorji said trash cans along the trails are filled with waste today. “Trash cans should not be placed along the trails.”

The executive director of Clean Bhutan, Nedup Tshering, also shares a similar opinion.

He said people dump everything in the trash cans without any responsibility of emptying it.

A tour guide and a tour operator, Kezang Tshering, who is a passionate hiker and explores different routes, said that when he goes hiking, he brings back his waste and even tries to bring back the waste that has been thrown by other people.

“It is sad to see beer bottles and plastics along the trails and even up to Jomolhari,” he said.

The famous Lungchutse trail, which attracts many weekend hikers, is also seeing increased waste issues.

The trail, although not polluted, has pet bottles and plastic wrappers.

The head of Lungchutse monastery, Ugyen Panjor, said that keeping the environment around the monastery and the trekking trails clean is a problem as pilgrims do not dispose their waste properly.

“We clean the trails and the surrounding whenever we can, but it is difficult as it is only seven of us here and people coming to visit the monastery litter again,” he said.

He requests everyone visiting the lhakhang to take care of their waste and refrain from smoking around the Lhakhang. 

Recently, a group of corporate employees cleaned the trail, emptied all the trash and replaced the small bins with bigger trash cans. A volunteer of the corporation said they will enure the bins are emptied once in a month.