Urgent need for better drainage system in Trongsa

The dzongkhag receives some of the heaviest rainfall in the country

Safety: Trongsa town residents are calling for their drainage system to be improved following the recent floods, which triggered a series of landslides and caused threatening crevices in and around the town.

The town is perched on a steep slope with an ebtso or kamtsho (swampy lake) located above it. Foresters say Trongsa is also located in a cloud forest.

“It might just be known as ebtsho but in absence of proper drainage it could wipe off the entire town if its water breaches from heavy rainfall,” thromde thuemi, Karma Latho said.

Three small streams flow through the town. But even these otherwise small streams threaten the town.

Among the dzongkhags, Trongsa is one that receives heavy rainfall. In June it recorded the highest rainfall in the country: 66.7 mm. The last time it received so much rain was in June 2010: 47.9 mm.

Senior foresters predict year round soggy and fragile grounds in cloud forests which could cause landslides, floods and soil erosion because of heavy rainfall and dampness.

“Under the given weather conditions, Trongsa needs a well-planned drainage system to avert major landslides, floods and land degradation,” a senior forester said.

The recent landslides destroyed three homes and a truck parking constructed at a cost of Nu 13 million.

“Trongsa lacks proper drainage system, which is a must to prevent impending danger from landslides and floods,” Karma Latho said.

The town’s need for a better drainage system, despite being raised in the dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) repeatedly has not yet materialised because of a lack of budget, he added. “The proposal for drainage is always met with a tepid response because of lack of thromde budget,” Karma Latho said.

An elderly town resident, Tshela attributed lack of proper plans and development in the town to lack of a professional urban planner. Currently, the municipal engineer is designated from dzongkhag.

“Every other municipal engineer has been a fresh engineering graduate who lacked experience in delivering such sustainable long-term plans,” Tshela said.

As a result Trongsa hasn’t even been able to construct a proper sewer line, a hotelier in Trongsa said. “Much of the sewerage from both kitchens and toilets are basically seeping into the grounds on which the homes stand,” the hotelier, who requested not to be named, said. The hotelier added that the seepage of sewer water might also be weakening the soil structure.

Residents are also asking that a 300m concrete cross drainage be relocated. Runoff from the cross drain, besides causing crevices, also exposed and damaged the town’s pipes that supply water. Water that ran in the cross drain has been diverted to another drain joining a roadside drain near Ta dzong.

Assistant engineer, Tobgay, said Trongsa town has only three outlets: a storm drain, the roadside outlet drain and another by the end of the town towards the highway to Zhemgang. An additional storm water drain has been proposed for.

“The proposal however is inadequate considering the scale of torrential rain, which wrecked landslides and floods recently,” Tobgay said. The engineer added that the recent landslides entail drainages even in Laoshong and Sherubling, among others.

“Bigger drainages needs to be constructed to accommodate the runoffs in monsoons,” Tobgay said, adding the homes were destroyed below Yangkhi resort because the drains were not big enough.

The existing practice of sewer flowing into roadside drainage also leaves the town occupants susceptible to disease outbreaks. “Water, stream course management, storm water drain and roadside drainages are vital in Trongsa,” Tobgay said.

Karma Latho said a study to determine the geological stability of Trongsa is also an urgent need given threat of landslides.

By Tempa Wangdi

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