Phub Dem  | Paro

Doteng gewog and tshethar tshogpa (Animal Life Saving Association) are at loggerheads over the pigsty housing 85 rescued pigs for more than a year.

The issue surfaced after local residents complained to the gewog that a stream, which is their drinking water source, is polluted by the waste from the sty drains.

According to Paro’s livestock officer, Loden Jimba, lack of proper monitoring and failing to abide by the Animal Tshethar guideline 2018 led to the issue.

In December last year, an independent review team reviewed the pig tshethar practice issue in Doteng as per directives from the agriculture ministry.

According to the review report, the pig tshethar was not registered with the Civil Society Organisation Authority (CSOA)as Public Benefit Organisation (NGO), violating the guideline.

It stated that although the tshogpa was aware of procedures to register the land and animal shelter with gewog, the land was not registered with gewog for tshethar purposes.

It also stated that the location of the pig shelter was not ideal given its proximity to Dotengchhu. “Due to poor drainage, the risk of runoff water from the farm into the stream could pose a serious public health hazard for those living downstream.”

It was observed that rampant in-breeding took place on the farm, which wasn’t allowed under the purview of Animal Tshethar Guideline 2018.

Other observations included overcrowding of pigs in a small sty, no boundary fencing and lack of biological pit for carcass disposal and poor management of farm waste and sewerage.

The report recommended amending the Livestock Act 2001 and CSOA Act 2007, as it does not include action for those organisations or tshogpas failing to register as CSO.

Why does gewog want to relocate the shelter?

According to Doteng Gup, Letho, the gewog received numerous complaints about polluting the stream, which some residents used for drinking purposes during shortages.

He said that the main issue was the encroachment of state land, adding that construction of archery ground at the same area was delayed due to the relocation issue.

A private landholder, Sangay, said he allowed the tshogpa to house the rescued animals as long as they live. However, in 2019, 50 decimal of his land was converted into state land to relocate the gewog archery ground.

According to Gup Letho, old archery ground had to be relocated as it posed a risk to the commuters and gewog extension office, adding that Sangay was given a land replacement. “Now more than half of the pigsty falls in state reserve land, which is illegal.”

Considering the state of rescued animals, he said that the gewog was willing to allow them some months to find a place to relocate but cannot allow the shelter to remain permanently. “They failed to abide by the guideline and sanitation protocol.”

He said that the gewog administration issued an office order to the private individual who operated the piggery farm stating that if locals complained about sanitation and failing to abide by the standard, the gewog will close it. “The gewog shut down a piggery farm in Phoshar, as it failed to comply with the sanitation protocol.”

With every possibility exhausted, Letho said that the issue might end up as a legal battle. “Dzongkhag asked to relocate the pigsty earlier this year. There has been no follow up so far.”

The issue was discussed several times in gewog tshogde and dzongkhag tshogdu.

Tshethar tshogpa  clarifies

Semchen Tshethar Tshogpa claimed the gewog office wants to relocate the shelter just to accommodate the archery range.

They said they would stand by the agreement with the landowner, allowing the enclosure to remain as long as the pigs survive.

The association is adamant that locals didn’t complain to relocate the shelter as they benefit from the pigsty’s manure and polluting the stream was just an allegation.

A senior member with the tshogpa, Nima Dem, said that the inbreeding took place due to the poor condition of the shelter and claimed that the livestock extension refused to provide services.

She said that the tshogpa leased Sangay’s private land and not state land. “If Sangay had not given us the land, we would not have been able to rescue the pigs as we don’t have any place to keep them.”

The tshogpa, she said, look forward to shifting and rebuilding a proper shelter in Sangay’s remaining private land and follow all the safety measures.

Edited by Tashi Dema