After remaining inoperational since it was inaugurated, 14 of the 23 buildings are connected to the sewerage treatment plant in Hejo, Thimphu as of March according to the works and human settlement ministry.

The treatment plant, which was constructed at a cost of 100 million Japanese Yen was inaugurated in February but could not be operationalised because the sewer lines were not connected.

However, an official from the ministry, requesting anonymity, said that following a notification issued by the Thimphu thromde, building owners have started connecting the sewer pipes to the treatment plant.

The official said that even with 14 buildings connected, the plant would be operating partially since it would require all 23 buildings to connect their sewer lines to run at its optimal or full capacity.

“The water and sanitation rule 1995 mandate that all property owners are required to meet the expenses of their own sewer house connections,” the official said. “The rest of the buildings would be connected soon, as it is still being pursued by Thromde.”

The sewerage plant has a current capacity of 0.1 million litres a day (MLD), which will produce an effluent discharge in the river. It is designed to cater to a population of about 700 people or 86 buildings.

In the first phase, the project would be able to provide provision for sewer to only 23 buildings while the second phase of the project would be carried out by the thromde whenever the budget is available.

“But the design is ready and already given to the thromde. Once complete, it would cover the entire population, which is all 86 buildings.”

The owners apart from paying Nu 3,000 fees to the thromde would have to bear expenses ranging from Nu 60,000 to 100,000 to connect the sewer lines. The expense, according to the official is causing the delay in connecting the pipes. The owners also have an option to pay the thromde for the connections.

Funded by JICA, Mokan Joka System Co. Ltd (MJS) based in Japan and M/s Vajra Builders constructed the plant. Effluents with Biological Oxygen Demand of 20 milligrams per litre would be released, meeting the effluent discharge standard of Bhutan. The new sewer network is about 800 meters long and the treatment plant covers an area of about 1,000 m2.

Thromde officials had earlier said that they were not kept in the loop on the project’s progress. The official explained that it could probably be a miscommunication because the thromde was involved since the inception of the project.

“It was a well-planned and coordinated project with concerned agencies and not as reported in the media earlier,” the official said. “The ministry had also trained relevant engineers on the know-how of the operations for the Dojo Joko system. But those officials who know the details of the project is no more with the thromde and the executive secretary is also new, hence the miscommunication.”

The official added that the ministry fully advocates the project, which improves the living standards of the people and always tries to involve all stakeholders for smooth implementation and success of the project.

“There is no legal backing for local government to enforce the standing water and sanitation rules so, it would take time to have all buildings connected to the plant and implement Phase II,” the official said. “But we expect that the project serves its purpose, which it is intended for.”

Meanwhile, officials from MJS are expected to visit Bhutan to check the affluent quality and if it meets the National Environment Commission’s standard to certify the plant.

“We couldn’t check last time since the plant did not have sewer pipes connected to receive sewerage.”

Yangchen C Rinzin