Thimphu’s solid waste generation is projected to increase to 124 metric tonnes (MT) a day from the present 99 MT by 2027, when an estimated 200,000 people are living in the capital. Thimphu’s population last year stood at 99,655.
This is the according to the strategic environment assessment (SEA) for Thimphu structure plan (TSP) draft report, which states that lack of civic sense and inadequate awareness, management, technology, infrastructure and human resources, transportation vehicles and funding are the main reason for the solid waste generation.
Currently, household waste generated is collected, transported and disposed off at Memelhakha Landfill, which is an open uncontrolled waste disposal facility. Management of existing facilities is being conducted to increase the landfill capacity that is being converted to a semi-aerobic landfill (phase wise).
The compost processing facility in Serbithang is closed and there is a proposal to install a new compost plant in Memelhakha. The collection of municipal solid waste has been outsourced to the private sector and construction and management of a transfer station is being done in Babesa, South Thimphu.
The report has recommended an efficient municipal solid waste management infrastructure and services through Integrated Solid Waste Management.
It also recommends making the Memelhakha landfill safe and secure. It says cost effective measures must be taken to expand the capacity of the landfill with efficient leachate collection system and gas vents. The report also states that the current management system is heavily subsidized and is not sustainable in the long run.
The draft report also studied sewerage generation and sewerage design, water supply and demand, solid waste generation and vehicles and housing in Thimphu.
The Deputy Chief Urban Planner with the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS), Tshering Dorji, said that by 2017, with a population of 200,000, the vehicle number is expected to increase to 87,989 from 43,843 today, which is equal to five people having two vehicles in the capital.
The National Environment Commission Secretariat’s environment officer said that infrastructure development, goods and services, waste, transport, risk and hazards and resource utilization were studied for the assessment.
“SEA gives an analytical and participatory approach to strategic decision making and aims to integrate environmental and social consideration into policies, plans and programmes,” he said.