Kuenselphodrang prone to sanitation and fire hazards

Around 3,000 devotees are staying in makeshift shelters built in the premises of Kuenselphodrang, Thimphu where the oral transmission of Kanjyur is underway.

The devotees are housed in 599 makeshift shelters built on 22 acres of land allocated by the government below the Buddha statue.

According to the Kanjyur Oral Transmission Committee, of the 559 shelters, 480 are tents that accommodate two to three persons while 119 huts have the capacity to take in three to 40 people.

The huts are made of plywood, CGI sheets, plants and bamboo mats. The proximity of the shelters, where devotees use gas, kerosene stoves, electric cookers and firewood for cooking, has made the area prone to fire hazards.

Considering the risk, the police conduct a fire sensitisation programme every evening after the day’s oral transmission ends. They visit each makeshift and talk about fire safety measures such as leaving the butter lamps unattended, checking the gas pipes and ensuring it is off after use when devotees leave for the oral transmission.

On the evening of August 6, a tent caught fire. There were two old women and an old man in the tent. Except for the mat, other items were rescued.

A fire extinguisher and four police personnel are on 24 hours duty to ensure fire safety. They are stationed at the Choekhang, where the oral transmission is held.

Without an approval from the committee, the devotees are not allowed to install electric lines. The committee seeks assistance from Bhutan Power Corporation to install any new lines in the shelter.

The police also encourage devotees to use only certified water to prevent water related diseases.  There are 16 tanks, placed near the shelter to supply water to the devotees. The water is piped from Phajoding and certified good for drinking

However, some devotees complained that some tanks are out of water most of the time.

The secretary of Kanjyur Oral Transmission Committee, Khenpo Sangye Chhoedak, said, that there is enough water but it is not properly used. “Some pipes have been cut into pieces,” he said. “The water is leaking from many places.”

Although there could be adequate water for the 78 toilets, they still stink. There are 38 toilets for public, which are temporarily set up below the road. The foul smell comes in the moment one gets closer to the main gate of Buddha statue.

The devotees have also built 52 pit toilets. Although half-hidden under the pine tress, passerby can see the toilets made of plywood, bamboo and tarpaulin.

BARFA officials inspect the quality of food regularly. There are 37 cooks including helpers who are fully engaged in the kitchen that serves lunch and tea for more than 10,000 devotees everyday.  Around 45 Desuups involved in serving the meals.

The committee members remind devotees to be mindful of garbage and proper use of toilets to avoid outbreak of diseases.

There are 19 traffic personnel including an office that manage traffic and another 24 personnel led by an office for security.

Tenzin Namgyel

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