The sewage line of Norzin Lam near the main traffic has been dethroned as the most blocked one by the new champion in the form of the brand new but blocked sewage line built as part of the Nu 301 mn four lane road from Chubachu to Jungshina.
The repeated blockage of Thimphu Thromde’s new sewage line flowing through the newly constructed double lane road from Zilukha to the town is raising health and sanitation concerns among the residents in the area.
Sewage water contains harmful bacteria and diseases, and gases that are harmful to the body. However, the pedestrians and Zilukha school children using the road have no choice but to put up with the splashing of sewer water and the stench.
Deki, 24, a resident of Zilukha said, “We see waste water gushing from a manhole positioned right on the highway, where hundreds of vehicles pass by, and the VIPs also passes by. It does not look good. We’ve reported to the Thromde, and yet the problem persists.”
The residents also feel that the carrying load capacity of the sewage lines must have reached its limit as a result of unplanned additional sewage lines being installed recently, causing it to become blocked.
Most residents and commuters stated that the problem started from early this year and the Thromde would let the sewage flow for days and even weeks with no action.
Lhamo, 30, residing in the upper Zilukha said that the sewer water overflowing on the road makes it impossible for her to walk these days.
“I literally must cross the sewer line to walk to my office. The waste water overflows, and there is nowhere for your feet to rest. While crossing, my shoes and Kira gets soaked. Thromde should address the problem as soon as possible,” she stated.
According to the Engineer (Sewer Section) of Thimphu Thromde, Jigme Wangdi, the Zilukha sewage manhole has been toppled by the project team, and even with attempts at clearing the blockage from all sides, the team just could not clear it. The Thromde is now attempting to expose the manhole in the middle of the road.
“We intend to expose it with the machine and clear it within one or two days. We attempted clearing that specific chamber three or four times using both personnel and the machine, but we couldn’t get it clear. So we’re going to put together a jet machine and expose it,’ he said.
He further said, “The construction was performed by others so I have nothing to comment on that, but since maintenance is my responsibility, we are working hard to clear the blocks. That exact sewer was also clogged the last time, and we coordinated, performed maintenance, and requested the contractor to clear it.”
He stated that the people in the project installed the sewage pipe after testing its flow.
“The sewage lines have not reached their capacity since it was considered and worked on when the design was carried out. We have been reminding the people not to connect gutter and kitchen waste to the sewer. In areas like Norzin Lam, the blockage does not occur at other times, but it becomes clogged when it rains because people have linked gutter and kitchen waste to the sewer,’ he stated.
He added that in Zilukha, some residents must have linked the gutter and kitchen waste to the sewer resulting in clogging.
“Because the road is new, we will face criticism if we excavate it, but we will do so carefully and without causing damage. The issue will be addressed within two or three days,” he added.
Thromde discovered sanitary pads, cloth remnants, and other trash. ‘If people do not maintain their sewer lines at the source and continue to discharge such materials, the sewerage pipes are prone to be blocked,” he said.
As per Thimphu Thromde, they will not provide the occupancy permit if the gutter and kitchen waste are connected to the sewer. Only if people divert it and link it to the drain, thromde will issue it.
He said that there are numerous buildings and Thromde is unable to access them during construction, so people connect everywhere, therefore, Thromde is planning to impose a fine, which has been approved by the management and is waiting for endorsement.
According to Thromde, as much as it is Thimphu Thromde’s responsibility to address these concerns, it is also the residents’ responsibility to assist the Thromde by avoiding dumping the solid wastes in the sewers in the first place.
Thimphu Thromde has made it mandatory for households to have a screening mesh in the last private chamber that connects to the manhole to ensure that solid materials don’t enter the main sewerage lines.
The raw sewage gushing out is currently flowing onto the road and in a drain that connects directly to the Thimphu river below the Dzong area posing an environmental challenge as well.