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Clean Bhutan: Almost every citizen in the country was involved in the first ever nationwide cleaning campaign gathering waste from every chiwog, gewog, thromde, neighbourhood, trekking route, and along paths, among others.

As of last night reports on the waste collection were still being compiled in all the dzongkhags.

In the capital, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen also met volunteers and thanked them for their efforts.

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen is the Royal Patron of Clean Bhutan, a non-government organisation that aims to advocate and sensitise citizens on managing waste and reducing waste generation.

The executive director of Clean Bhutan, Nedup Tshering said sustaining the efforts to keep the country clean could be challenging if the responsibility is construed to be of an institution’s. “It is not a challenge if it is taken as an individual responsibility,” he said.

He added that given the commitment and blessing from the highest level, keeping the country clean for all times is possible.

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In the capital, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay expressed his gratitude to all the citizens for their efforts yesterday. He said that this is a gift to His Majesty The King on the anniversary of a decade of reign. “Starting tonight, if every citizen takes the responsibility of keeping the country clean, it will be our real gift to His Majesty The King,” Lyonchoen said.

For the country to be the cleanest, he said lots of strategies and initiatives are required. To this effect, dzongdags are given the responsibility to draw strategies in their respective dzongkhags. In thromdes, thrompons are given the responsibility.

Lyonchoen assured the government’s support in form of policies and resources. “Although it is individual responsibility to monitor waste in our own neighborhood, the government will take the responsibility,” he said.

In order to sustain the result of yesterday’s campaign, Lyonchoen said that laws would be implemented stringently and penalties imposed from today. “It’s also government’s responsibility,” he said.

Although penalties are already there in the books, Lyonchoen said it had not been implemented thoroughly.

He cited various offenses that could result in penalties ranging from Nu 100 to Nu 20,000.

While some volunteers had recommended to increase the penalties, Lyonchoen said the intent of imposing a penalty is not to tyrannise the people but to make them responsible and practice ways that would keep the country clean.

Lyonchoen, however, said if wastes are disposed around the homes, buildings and their surroundings, fines would be imposed instantly. “We’ll clean them but we will again come for inspection the next day and quite frequently,” he said.

“While there might be some who can escape, I will impose the penalty myself if found.” He added that there are even volunteers to monitor and impose fines.

If this doesn’t work, Lyonchoen said the government will have to raise the fines.

There are at least nine Acts directly or partially related to waste management.

Meanwhile in Thimphu, at least 65 truckloads of waste was collected, which is approximately 195 tonnes. Even the Hongkong market area and the centenary farmers’ market, which are usually littered with garbage, looked clean yesterday, Lyonchoen noted.

Phuentsholing thromde collected 55 metric tones (MT) of waste. In Punakha, more than four truckloads of waste was collected from the Lobesa, Kuruthang and the moenlam chennmo site. In some dzongkhags, cleaning efforts will continue today as some of the areas could not be covered.

Tshering Dorji

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