English | Dzongkha Saturday, July 24, 2021

GAB completes ten days cleaning campaign in three districts

Jun 12, 2021

Advocacy programmes are not enough to address the growing concern of waste in Bhutan anymore. With this notion and hope to make a difference, a 10-member team from the Guide Association of Bhutan (GAB) completed a week-long cleaning campaign in three districts, today. They collected four truckloads of wastes in 10 days along their way.

Despite having policies, regulations, and environmental organisations and offices, wastes are everywhere. In public places, high up in the mountains, valleys, villages, along the roads and urban settlements.

The team packed up their cleaning materials and started from Gasa, one of the cleanest and least populated districts in the country. In Gasa, they collected 40 sacks of waste.

“We started the programme from Gasa tshachhu because people from all walks of life come there. For now, they are managing it professionally but still then, we do have garbage that is dumped in a nearby forest or nearby streams. That I feel is a challenge for the dzongkhag. I think the dzongkhag needs to tell people to not only pick the garbage along the roadsides but also look beyond that,” said Garab Dorji, the founder and chairman of GAB.

From Gasa, the team traveled and covered Punakha and Thimphu districts. He added that considering the increasing number of waste, advocacy, and awareness programmes alone is not enough to address these issues.

“There is garbage everywhere. The amount of garbage that is there is unbelievable. Advocacy should go hand in hand. We have to partner with the people in the villages. You don’t go once and then not go. You have to do it time and again. Just advocacy, I think will not work because, for the last 40 to 50 years, this advocacy of cleaning up the garbage issue was there since then,” he added.

Members of the team who are mostly tourist guides also found a mind-boggling amount of wastes during their 10 days campaign.

They said it is important to keep the country clean with many outsiders considering Bhutan as one of the top tourist destinations.

“Apart from the sceneries, the main reason why tourists visit our country is that our country is clean compared to other places. They love it here. We found waste where people gather or meet. People don’t take their waste to proper disposal sites. I saw much waste dumped along the roads and on cliffs and it is also risky for waste collectors like us. It does not look good because everyone can see it while traveling,” said Kesang, one of the tourist guides engaged in the programme.

“We came over 200 kilometers picking up garbage along the way and we found wastes almost everywhere. From Hongtsho to Thimphu Dzongkhag, many construction wastes are dumped below the roads. As you can see, we came collecting and loading the wastes on our bus. We dumped a few tons of wastes just yesterday at Memelakha. Today we started at around 9 AM and we did not even cover half a kilometer but you can see the wastes we collected,” added Dorji Pelzang, another tourist guide.

The association said they will try to cover many other districts as well if they get support from the relevant agencies.

National Environment Commission supported the cleaning campaign this time. According to GAB, they initiate such campaigns at least four times a year.

Tshering Dendup 

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