… villagers say the animals are dying 

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Khandrothang villagers in Samtse gewog are concerned with the management of the municipal landfill. With the dump yard left open, cattle often scavenge on toxic wastes and die.

It has also polluted the stream nearby the landfill where animals drink. Although there may not be immediate problems, the effect is revealing eventually as cattle are dying.

A resident, Karma Wangzin said there have been several instances when villagers have lost their cattle to the toxic waste.

“It is a municipal dump yard, located near the gup office. They have walls and fencing but they keep the gate opened,” he said, adding this is the problem.

“And there are no security persons. The gate is always open. Cows enter and eat plastics.”

Karma Wangzin said he visited the municipal office personally, about four months ago, but no action has been taken.

Villagers said that the area was a grazing land for animals of three villages.

Villagers also said many people have started tying cattle with tether near their homes. “But there was not enough grass.”

One Khandrothang resident, Rajen Gurung said he lost a cow. “It ate plastics.”

Rajen Gurung said he didn’t complain because it was also the duty of the farmers to look after their cattle. However, he said that the landfill was open all the time and almost all the cattle from Khandrothang gathered there.

“There was a caretaker before. He was tired of chasing the cattle,” he said.

Another farmer, Rajesh Uraon lost two cows about a year ago. Today, he keeps them near his house.

“We cannot let them move around freely because of the paddy season. If we have to chase them to the grazing land, we fear they will go to the landfill.”

Samtse Gup Wangchuk Lepcha said the landfill doesn’t have “proper fencing.”

“It remains open and there is settlement nearby,” he said, adding that this has led the cattle to roam freely.

The gup also said that it was not only the cattle the disposal place is attracting. He said an elephant that has been creating havoc in Khandrothang also frequents the landfill area.

“It eats leftover salt and biscuits,” he said, adding that it has been only four days since the elephant was driven out from the area.