Waste: The Bumthang forest division office imposed a fine of more than Nu 1 million on three contractors widening the East-West Highway in Trongsa.

The three contractors, GALCON Infra Ltd, Druk Lhayuel Construction and Raven Builders were imposed a fine of Nu 327,000, Nu 405,000 and Nu 300,000 respectively for indiscriminate illegal dumping of muck.

The three contractors are widening  the East-West Highway between Tshangkha to Trongsa.

In a meeting held on November 19 between the contractors, officials from Department of Roads (DoR) and forest division office and territorial range office in Trongsa, contractors were reminded of the need to dump the waste in designated areas identified by forest officials.

It was learnt that GALCON Infra Ltd and Raven Builders were imposed a fine of Nu 99,000 and 90,000 for the same offence earlier this year.

Department of Roads (DoRs) chief engineer in Trongsa, Taugay Choedup, said that while the road officials have been monitoring the dumping of muck, it becomes difficult when contractors have to clear the road for traffic. “When contractors give priority to the public, they dispose the muck below the road to speed up clearing the road block,” he said.

The chief engineer said that from now on, they would ensure that muck from the road widening is dumped in designated areas. “The designated area is within their jurisdiction only.”

The forest division office chief forest officer, Kinzang Gyeltshen, said they were implementing the National Environmental Commission’s 2012 Waste Management Rules, which was revised in 2016. “We impose a fine of Nu 9,000 per truck load of illegal muck dumping in accordance to the rule,” he said.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who just returned from Trongsa for the National Day celebrations, said that while the progress of the East-West Highway road widening is good, there were some contractors who dumped muck below the road. “Ideally, no dumping should be done below the road,” he said.

Lyonchoen said the government has spent more than Nu 59M to purchase floodlights and generators to allow the contractors to execute the work during the night.

Lyonchoen said that in most parts, vegetation would grow back but the government is encouraging reforestation for quick vegetation growth. “Besides the penalty, the DoR has allocated budget for reforestation.”

He said that while the worst of the East-West Highway widening is completed, the government is serious about contractors who are executing the work and those who are not. “I have made it clear to the road officials that they should terminate those contractors who are not performing in accordance to the contract norms,” Lyonchoen said.

Tashi Dema