There are over 300 Vishwakarma statues lying near the Debsi bridge point in Thimphu, as relevant agencies look for a disposal site on land to get rid of them. Until last year, the statues were disposed off in the river.
Chief Environmental Officer of Waste Management Division, National Environmental Commission (NEC), Thinley Dorji, said the colourful statues are painted with inorganic paints containing heavy metals like lead and mercury.
Therefore, to avoid the greater impact in the future, NEC informed Thimphu Thromde and concerned people to look for a disposal site for the statues. He said it is not a small quantity of statues and disposing them will affect the river system.
“For now we do not have a disposal method, and we cannot just dispose it anywhere from the religious point of view. We have stored in the temporary site for now, and we will see how we can come up with the method of disposal,” said Thinley Dorji.
The statues dumped in Thimphuchu can affect the people living downstream who use the river water with potential lead poisoning and more.
“We have not tested the river but the paints are all inorganic containing heavy metals so it is harmful. The impact may not be an immediate one but slowly there will be impact on human health,” said Thinley Dorji.
According to Thinley Dorji, there are over 2,000 construction sites in Thimphu. He said they have not finished collecting all the statues. The statue collection point will also accept the statues from construction sites if individuals want to drop it off by themselves.
Thimphu Thrompon, Kinlay Dorjee, said the construction in Thimphu increases every year. And every year, the celebration of Vishwakarma is done in every construction site and also the amount of pollution and chemicals ending up in the river is huge, whereby it will be affecting the aquatic life.
“So seeing the huge number of statues, we are concerned, and we have also received instruction from NEC that disposing statues in the river should not be happen,” said Kinlay Dorjee.
He said they have consulted Hindu pundit and as per their religion, it is not necessary to dispose the statues in the river. Statues can be disposed in the sacred places or some clean area as well.
“We will be taking the statues soon in the Chamgang area, properly looked after. We do not want those statues to be damaged by somebody because we do not want to hurt the sentiments of Hindu citizens,” said Kinlay Dorjee.