If you’re travelling between Punakha and Thimphu, very soon you might have to give a second thought before dumping waste along the highway. This is because the Punakha district administration will be installing CCTV cameras and deploying additional people to monitor illegal waste dumping along the road. If caught, you will be fined. The move comes after the administration and other stakeholders repeatedly conducted cleaning along the highway but didn’t see much improvement.
One of the most littered parts of the highway is from Lobesa to the Dochula Pass. Travellers usually throw litter from their cars while some dump their wastes below the road in several locations. Moreover, some commuters leave their waste behind after having meals along the road.
Employees of the Department of Surface Transport and the Royal Botanical Park in Lamperi along with local leaders and residents have been jointly taking care of wastes along the road so far.
Since the initiative could not succeed, the district administration is now planning to do away with the cleaning activities along the road. It will instead enhance the monitoring system.
Meanwhile, the administration already fined over twenty-five individuals in Khuruthang for dumping waste illegally.
Punakha Dzongrab Ugyen Tshering said that the district administration is planning to install the CCTV cameras within this month. “Since most of the people travel though this highway while going to Thimphu, we would like to request all commuters to cooperate with us as we have started imposing fines strictly.”
Pabi Maya Monger, a senior forester at the Royal Botanical Park in Lampelri says they conduct cleaning works along the road on 9th of every month but travellers keep litter the road. “For instance, if we do cleaning today, we see the same amount of wastes thrown on the highway, the next day. So, I feel we can maintain our environment clean only if every individual takes the responsibility.’’
Similarly, Leki Tshering an employee of the Department of Surface Transport in Lobesa said that he has observed people leaving their wastes along the highway after having meals. “They leave behind the food wrappers and covers. They directly throw the waste from their car window.”
Likewise, Tek Bdr. Darjee, who also works with the Department of Surface Transport in Lobesa suggests that placing dustbins in certain places along the road could help minimize the waste issue.
The waste issue is prevalent not only along the highway but also in recreational sites and picnic spots in Punakha. As the district is a popular pilgrimage and tourist destination, local visitors and tourists visit it regularly.
Dzomlingthang is one site that mostly remains busy. It will also soon come under CCTV surveillance to address the issues. Additional manpower has been already deployed to monitor the wastes in the area.
According to the Waste Prevention and Management Regulations, the fine for littering at any public places is Nu 250. Likewise, defaulters found dumping wastes in the environment are fined Nu 3,000.
Through the initiative, the Punakha district administration hopes to make the district waste free.
Changa Dorji, Punakha
Edited by Kipchu