Waste management is increasingly becoming a problem in the country. If we do not address the issue now, effectively and efficiently so, the problem could become unmanageable very soon.

As urban population and centres grow, waste generation will also grow exponentially. Thimphu’s only landfill in Memelakha is overflowing with waste and seepage from the site is threatening the environment and aquatic lives in the nearby areas.

There is a serious need to adopt an efficient system of waste collection. The way we do it currently does not seem to work. The long-term impact of unmanaged waste could be expensive for the country’s fragile ecology. And, more importantly, we must look at protecting the environment and human health through sound management of waste.

What is worrying is that our forests are increasingly becoming infested with solid waste. Already more than 626 acres of state reserve forestland in Wangdue is infested with solid waste. If nationwide surveys and studies are carried out, same could be the situation in most of the dzongkhags.

It is the duty of every citizen to preserve, protect and respect the environment, which is one of the most important pillars of Gross National Happiness. We need to be concerned about how reckless dumping of waste in the forests is threating our environment.

We have a Law that requires us to prevent and reduce volumes of waste generation, promote segregation, reuse, recycling and management of waste in an environmentally sound manner. And then we have regulation that says person polluting the environment or causing ecological harm shall be responsible for the costs of avoidance, containment, abatement, medical compensation, mitigation, remediation and restoration. Yet, we have not been able to control and prohibit illegal dumping or releasing of waste into the environment.

Is it that there is no effective functioning and coordination among the implementing agencies?

A survey has found that lack of technical knowledge and people’s participation have resulted in weak implementation of rules and regulations. What this tells us is that the implementing agencies are not doing enough.