Waste is not a new issue, and it is becoming more prevalent and troubling to people. To address the issue, Thimphu Thromde, in collaboration with the National Environment Commission (NEC), began penalizing people who failed to segregate their waste from 16 November 2022.
From 16 November to date, 430 individuals have been penalized for failing to segregate waste, some for leaving construction waste near drains and clogging them, and others for failing to keep their surroundings clean within their bounds.
Thromde is more concerned with segregation. Thimphu Thromde has collected around Nu 228,800 in penalties to date.
Highlighting the challenges, Sanitary Inspector of City Environment Division under Thimphu Thromde, Tsheten Wangchuk, said that people express their anger by throwing money on them and destroying receipts while collecting penalties. Some even provide incorrect information, such as phone numbers and citizen identity card numbers.
“We try to explain to them gently, but they react angrily. We sometimes end up arguing,” he said.
Violators who have not paid the fines are going to be notified, and if they don’t pay, the management could take action. The first round of inspection was completed on 14 December, and Thromde and NEC will continue to do so via the Zero Waste App.
A shopkeeper along the Norzin Lam, Sangay, said that street hawkers dump their waste in their bins, and they have to throw the hawker’s waste too.
“During the night, street hawkers sell their foods, and they collect the trash and dump it in our bins, and we don’t inspect when we toss it in the garbage truck. The relevant authorities should inform street hawkers about it and penalize them if they are discovered throwing their solid trash in our dumpsters,” he said.
Another shopkeeper, Pem, stated that they cannot continue to segregate the waste on a regular basis because when the garbage truck arrives, they have to rush and people have already dumped the solid waste in the dry bins.
“Even if we maintain two bins outside, people don’t bother to inspect and toss their trash in. And when the garbage truck arrives, we have to hurry since there is no time to separate on the spot. The appropriate authorities should look at it as well,” she added.
While shopkeepers were annoyed by the penalty, residents embraced and supported the move.
A resident residing in core area, Sonam Wangmo, remarked that penalizing violators on the spot without giving warning is preferable to catching the individual because if they are notified that the authorities would come and check, they will comply the rule for one day and neglect the other days.
“It’s a fantastic step that offenders are being penalized. At the very least, people will learn and continue to obey the rules,” she added.
Another resident, Khandu, stated that waste should be handled and that it is the individual’s obligation to manage waste.
“Till date people didn’t bother to take care of the waste, and now with the government penalizing the violators, they would follow it seriously. In reality, it is a wake-up call. The government is trying to address the waste management issue and has been advocating and raising awareness for a long time, and now all citizens must join in and take responsibility,” he added.