Wrappers, pet bottles, jute sacks, a damaged low-chair, jerry cans, lumps of sacks and plastic masses are strewn all over the place.

The open landfill site at Riserboo is located at Mendrelgang, about 17 kilometres away from Damphu town. Even though the area including the mounting waste is drenched, flies swarm around the waste disposal site.

At Damphu, the municipal truck driver stops and honks- a call for people to dump their waste. After some rounds of the town, the truck is filled and starts towards the landfill.

Wastes are then dumped. However, the landfill site, which was supposed to last for about 18 more years, had to be extended last year.

Executive engineer with Damphu municipality, Tshewang Tenzin said that the landfill design was estimated to last about 30 years when it was identified about 12 years ago.

Owing to the increasing production of waste and population, he said that an extension wall costing about Nu 936,000 was constructed last year.

“The landfill must have outlived its estimated years because of the vigorous mass cleaning campaign initiatives that the dzongkhag took since 2016.”

He said that every month cleaning campaigns were conducted even in gewogs. Each gewog has collection centres.

Environment officer, Dorji Wangdi, said that as and when the gewogs required garbage truck, it was provided. “Sometimes, more wastes were collected and so the truck is sent twice or more in a month.”

The first waste disposal site according to the municipal was identified for its isolated location and minimum impact.

Mendrelgang’s gup, Yeshi, said that no formal complaint was received so far. “However, people have been complaining verbally about the location of the disposal site. Especially, on rainy days, they complain of the seepage from the landfill affecting the spring water.”

People also complain about dogs in the waste disposal site, he said. “They say that instead of Lhakhangs, stupas or chortens, the landfill site is situated atop.”

He said that nothing has been done to address such issues so far.

One of the residents, Tsheten, said that waste is a global concern and that it was only growing. “However, we need to have better mechanisms to address the issues. Otherwise it could have devastating impact on the environment.”

Tshewang Tenzin said that the extension wall built should last for another 10 years but with the trend of the growing waste, he is not sure.

Rinchen Zangmo | Tsirang