Mechanics are busy at work. The sound of tools and the noise of machines is heavy. A mixture of oil and water flows through the drains to Olarongchhu. Near the entrance of Olarongchu bridge lies an idle treatment plant.

Built to treat the chemical waste from the automobile workshop at Olakha, Thimphu the plant is nonfunctional. Effluents – fats, oils, grease (FOG), detergents and paints are the common waste from the workshop flows straight into the stream and then to the Wangchhu.

Frustrated workshop owners are disgruntled with no action taken by the thromde officials besides repeated appeal.

One of the executive members of Automobile Sector Association of Bhutan (ASAB), Kuenzang, said that the treatment plant was defunct for years and no action had been taken so far.

Thimphu Thromde reallocated the workshop from Changzamtog to Olakha because the waste and the resulting pollution was flowing into Wangchhu.

“Waste is flowing in Olarongchu now and no one cares about it,” he said

A workshop owner said that the policymakers were tone deaf about the issues that the association repeatedly raised with them.

Workshop owners said that effluents were not the only waste polluting the river. Solid waste is a major concern.

There are 78 registered automobile workshops in Olakha today.

Phub Dem