Clean Bhutan, as we are known, is still grappling with the waste problem. In fact, it is one of the emerging issues that we are forced to tackle. The interventions are not keeping up with the growing problem.

We have almost given up the effort to reduce waste from the source. The problem so far was collection, segregation and disposal. There have been interventions to tackle the issue, including resolving the issue of hazardous waste, say infelicitous medical waste. 

Considering our efforts, development partners are ever-willing to support us in tackling this new problem. The problem however is not being able to make them effective. The unattended waste incinerator in Mongar is a classic example. The intention was good.  The facility was built at a huge cost to cater to the growing waste problem, including medical waste. The implementation is reflective of many of our grand plans gone astray. 

How did we manage to waste a lot of money on a facility that is hardly used and is now abandoned?

It is not an isolated case of planning gone wrong or lack of ownership. Similar facilities in the thromdes are not put to good use, if not going to waste, after investing a lot of borrowed or grant money. The failed incinerators are a reflection of our attitude to implementing plans and policies. Quite often, we come up with the most convincing plan only to be neglected after getting the funds and starting a project.

Not long ago, what limited the impact of waste management was the lack of political will, funds, enhanced awareness and public sensitivity. Today’s problem is worse, as with all the above issues addressed, we are still facing an uphill task to manage our waste. For instance, residents may be educated enough to segregate their waste and wait for the garbage truck. What happens after it is collected is not known.

Going by reports of waste incinerators not functioning or neglected after securing the initial funding is a huge concern as we grapple with an increasing waste problem. Critics say that there is a lot of money in waste management to be wasted. If what people tasked to manage waste say is true, it is truly a waste of money, time and energy.

Our development partners and those funding generously to find solutions to the waste problem will ensure that their plans and projects are effectively enforced and money well spent. Letting it go to waste when many are taking individual initiatives to keep Bhutan clean and green is a big blow to our larger plans and projects.