To ease the pressure on an existing landfill in Trongsa, the dzongkhag administration has started segregating waste at source.

The 10-year life span of the existing landfill expired in 2013 given the increasing population, changing consumption pattern and littering.

“Since Trongsa is void of flat land, identifying another landfill is difficult,” the dzongkhag environment officer, Tshering Yangzom said.

She said that the dzongkhag administration came up with a plan to remodel the existing landfill to incorporate new features like sanitary landfill where waste segregation is possible. The 720 MW Mangdechhu Hydropower Project Authority (MHPA) has provided a fund of Nu 17.3M as part of its social corporate responsibility.

The remodeling is completed and starting this month, waste collection would occur four times a week, twice for dry waste and twice for degradable waste.

Tshering Yangzom said that waste collection would also be done during weekends to make it convenient for office goers. Dry waste collection will be done on Saturdays and Wednesdays while green waste is collected on Sundays and Thursdays.

“Although it is targeted throughout the dzongkhag, we are taking one step at a time,” she said.

She said that together with the municipal authority, the dzongkhag’s environment office has been monitoring waste collector trucks to ensure that waste are segregated and dumped in the right place. “For instance, we make sure that only dry waste are collected on Saturdays and Wednesdays.”

Green waste, however, she said, isn’t a problem in the gewogs and chiwogs as it is used in their kitchen garden or as cattle feed. While dry waste collection is done in the gewogs, it hasn’t reached the chiwogs due to budgetary constraints.

With only a tractor to collect waste in the municipality, collection has been challenging. The MHPA has provided two collector trucks but maintenance and fuel has been an expensive affair for the dzongkhag administration.

“The project is helping us collect waste from Kuenga Rabten until Langthel,” she said. “At this point we are stressing on advocacy and it’s going well. If need be, we are planning to go door to door for further segregation advocacy.”

The dzongkhag administration is also conducting a monthly cleaning campaign throughout the dzongkhag, where each household at the chiwog level is involved. Other agencies also participate in the programme irrespective of their human resource.

Should an individual fail to cooperate, defaulters would be penalised as per the Waste Prevention and Management Act. Individuals failing to segregate waste would be slapped a fine of Nu 500.

“Only time will tell how successful the initiative will be but we are optimistic,” she said. “With the monthly campaign, we have observed that Trongsa looks much cleaner than before.”

If waste is looked at as resource, she said it could be turned into manure while dry waste could be a source of revenue generation. This would also reduce the pressure on the landfill.

Keeping the dzongkhags and the gewogs clean is also one of the objectives of the 11th and 12th Plan.

Tshering Dorji | Trongsa