Thimphu will be one of the cleanest cities in the world by 2011, assured the prime minister, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley.
After the National Assembly (NA) enacted the Waste Prevention and Management Act yesterday, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said that the government decided to purchase a waste incinerator, which would dispose 40 tons of waste at a time. But the government is yet to decide which country the incinerator will be bought from.
He said that, to buy the machine, which is known to be expensive, the government was seeking assistance from the World Bank and other development partners.
NA members admitted that Bhutan faced a major issue of disposing, segregating and managing waste. The Memelhaka landfill, household waste, garbage of all kinds overflowing from waste-disposal pits, garbage bins, streets and the river, in public places and residential areas represented the range of issues facing policy makers.
The eleven-chapter Act, which categorizes waste into non-hazardous, hazardous, medical and E-waste, is expected to solve these problems.
Each person generated about a kilogram of household waste everyday, according to the first national survey in the urban centers of Bhutan by the department of urban development and engineering services (DUDES).
Thimphu alone produced about 40 tons of waste each day.
There was major disagreement among members during the discussion on the agencies specified by the Act to manage different wastes. Some members suggested that different agencies should be responsible to manage the waste in their premises. But some argued that, for non-hazardous waste, the city corporation should be the managing agency, but for chemical and hazardous wastes, health and agriculture ministry should be involved. The members also suggested that city corporation officials should be trained to deal with hazardous and chemical waste.
But it was decided that specific responsibilities would be given to various agencies to manage waste. The industry department should ensure waste prevention and management, when it comes to industrial wastes, as per the Act. The Dzongkhag Tshogdu and Gewog Tshogde supported by the dzongkhag, dungkhag and gewog administration should ensure waste prevention and management at the dzongkhag, dungkhag, gewog and chiwog levels, including the rural human waste, with guidance from the ministry of health.
The members of parliament said that the attitude of people should change first, before leaving it to the concerned agencies to solve the problem.
The Act also states that a person would be penalized if he or she violates the provisions of the Act. For instance, a person should report to the nearest local authority, when he or she sees any person releasing any nature of waste in a manner other than the disposal procedures in the Act.
“Every individual must take responsibility for the garbage they produce. Garbage simply does not disappear into a black hole once it’s picked up by the city corporation trucks,” said an MP.