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Pangbisa: Feral dogs roam the pristine forest. From somewhere nearby comes a sickening stench of something dead and rotting.

Waste is fast becoming a major problem in many Bhutanese communities, especially in the bigger and rapidly-growing towns.

Daily, about 8-10 metric tonnes of waste is dumped at the Pangbisa landfill

Daily, about 8-10 metric tonnes of waste is dumped at the Pangbisa landfill

Paro might look like a quaint little town largely untouched by the vices of modernisation. But behind the veneer of well-managed balance and beauty, Paro is struggling with the problem of mounting waste.

Here, in Pangbisa, where the town’s landfill is located, dog and men scavenge and segregate waste all day long. In a day, about eight to 10 metric tonnes of dry and wet waste is dumped at the landfill. Built to accommodate waste for 10 years, the area is already filled to the brim in its eighth year.

Municipal Engineer Kencho Dorji said exploring location for new landfill had begun already.

About 10 workers from Druk Waste Management (DWM) have been working at the site for the past seven months. The firm took over the management of the landfill from the thromde. Primary segregation is carried out at the site, which is then taken to the recovery centre for secondary segregation.

“Annually, we recover about 28 metric tonnes of waste,” Ratan Gurung, a DWM staff said.

It is a menial job. Without excavator machines and waste compactor, they can only segregate a few sacks of waste in a day.

“An excavator from the thromde comes only about twice in a month to clean and push the waste away from the highway. If we had machines, it would not be a problem,” Ratan Gurung said.

He said managing the landfill was difficult during monsoon. “Without proper pathway towards the landfill, people dump waste right by the roadside,” he said. “It makes management difficult and time-consuming.”

The thromde has two garbage trucks and two compactors. And Paro is rapidly expanding. Managing waste is becoming challenging by the day.

Choki Wangmo | Paro

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