Chhimi Dema

Every summer, roads in Thimphu thromde are flooded with wastewater. With the onset of the monsoon this year, the flooding has started and the social media is flooded with pictures of clogged drains and flooded roads.

Angry residents blame the thromde for the inadequate infrastructure and not clearing the drains. Often the overflowing water damages roads, private properties, and create an unhygienic surrounding.

Thimphu thromde officials are blaming the city’s residents for disposing of wastes in drains that is the main reason for clogging drains.

Thromde’s Officiating Chief Environment Officer Shera Doelkar said that residents dumped waste in drains assuming that the drain water would wash them away. Sand from construction sites is washed into the drains which add to the clogging, she added.

Sanitation inspectors from thromde said that when residents miss the truck collecting garbage, they throw them from their verandas and windows at odd hours.

Inspectors check for receipts and recharge voucher cards (RVC) in the waste to trace those defaulters. The two telecom operators have now stopped providing details on the user of RVC to protect their customers’ rights.

“If the garbage is disposed of illegal then customers’ rights cannot be protected,” Shera Doelkar said.

When thromde receive complaints that garbage collecting trucks do not come on time, GPS (Global Positioning System) tracker installed in trucks are examined to check if they went for collection.

“We do not ignore complaints. We attend to every complaint,” Shera Doelkar said.

CCTV cameras are also used to monitor to trace illegal waste disposal.

According to the Wastes Prevention and Management Regulation, dumping of wastes into drainage systems or other water bodies is fined Nu 1,000 and dumping of wastes in places other than approved sites gets a penalty of Nu 500.

“Fines charged are meagre amount. It should be increased for defaulters to feel a pinch,” she said. Even after the issuance of receipt, some people did not come to pay their fines.

Additionally, without service duct where cable and power line can pass through, drains are used as service ducts and causes blockage.

Wastes dumped in a higher location are washed to lower areas and accumulate when it cannot pass through drains. The waste get entangled in the cable and water pipe lines which lead to flooding in an area, the official said.

Other problems are buildings owners, mostly on private land, making access roads which cut across drains but do not construct drains nor instal pipes for the water to pass. The drain water flows on to the roads.

Old drainage systems lack provision to add catch pit also causes flooding. Catch pit functions to collect silt and other debris which are washed by the drain water before it flushes out.

Some people have not connected their sewer line to septic tank and it flows into the drains. Workers have to unclog these drains which are mixed with faeces and wastes, Shera Doelkar said.

A resident from Centenary Farmers’ Market area Sonam Rinchen said that some building owners have installed gutters on the roof and water collected directly goes to sewer line which then overflows the septic tank. Thromde has issued a notification to remove gutters he said.

The city is divided into seven zones, for each zone a sanitation inspector, site supervisor and minimum of 10 labours are assigned to clean the drains and pick wastes daily.

Shera Doelkar said numbers of sites to clean are increasing because of new road connections and houses, stretching the manpower of thromde. Additional labours would be recruited to increase their workforce.

“People should be mindful of their wastes and dispose of in proper places. Only if we work together can the issue be solved.”