Phub Dem | Paro
Paro has been grappling with mounting waste issues, and illegal dumping of waste in open spaces remains rampant. It is a huge challenge for authorities to deal with trash.
People usually dump waste in areas where there are signboards with notifications prohibiting people from dumping their garbage.
Heaps of waste are seen on the way to Duezhi in Dopshari and around corners along the highway.
Besides this, the Shaba stream connecting directly to Pachu is filled with garbage. It has become an eyesore for the residents and for visitors alike.
Dema, a shopkeeper who stays near Shaba Primary School, said that people throw the garbage in the river, especially when everyone is asleep. She said that there are many commercial hubs along the river, and it is hard to pinpoint anyone as a perpetrator.
She added that without garbage pick-up services in areas away from the highway, residents have to store the waste and take it to the Shaba drop-off centre near the Pachu.
Rinzin, another resident, said that people threw their bags of waste around as if there was someone who would come and collect them. She said that if anyone collects the trash once as a good deed, people intentionally throw more in the same place, assuming someone will get rid of it for them.
According to dzongkhag environment officer Ngawang Dorji, it will take more than just unlearning a bad habit or imposing fines to help curb illegal dumping. “Taking ownership of one’s waste is essential.”
As per the waste management regulations, he said that it is the responsibility of the gewog to take ownership of the waste in their premises. “It is difficult to change the sense of civic responsibility in people. We clean the area, but the waste keeps on accumulating.”
He added that waste advocacy programmes were focused on the rural population, but those who are dumping waste are mainly the educated and officer-goers.
Two waste centres, one in town and the other in Lamgong gewog, were closed due to overflowing and unmanageable waste.
Today, the waste drop-off centres are managed by the dzongkhag environment office and waste from drop-off centres are moved to the landfill in Pangbisa every day.
Ngawang Dorji said that the dzongkhag took over the task from a private firm after the waste drop-off centres became unmanageable. He said that the dzongkhag procured two garbage collection trucks and recruited three workers. “We have allotted a truck each to two drop-off centres.”
According to an official with the Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority, waste accumulation near the Paro College of Education’s drop-off centre poses a significant risk to aerocraft. Birds feeding at the centre have struck the aeroplanes during take-off and landing. However, no significant damages have been reported yet.