Photo Courtesy: Norbu Wangdi

Visitors unhappy with the unhygienic toilets at Gasa Tshachu

Gasa Tshachu has become a preferred stop point for the travelers from both within the country as well as for the foreigners on their trekking expeditions to Laya or Lunana. With the humongous medicinal benefits associated with the hot spring, people from different parts of the country come all the way to one of the remote places in the country and camp around the area or rent the guest house for weeks or months even, to experience the healing power of the hot spring.

The hot spring has seven ponds with different water temperature believed to cure diseases such as ulcers, piles, digestion problems, skin diseases, backaches, tuberculosis among lot of other health issues. The hot spring which was restored to its present glory few years back after it was badly damaged by flood eight years ago provides guest house services at reasonable price,  without for the visitors having to go through the hassle of bringing utensils or tents like before.

However, the toilet at the location demands immediate attention from the authorities concerned. There are 36 units of toilet in total, inclusive of the ones attached to the guest room and the ones for people with disability. The visitors in the hot spring complained about the unhygienic toilets which were ridden with unflushed waste, filled with twigs, stones, clothes, and plastic in the toilet pots. “I would rather choose to relieve myself in the woods nearby than to visit the public toilets near the tsachu because the toilets have not been manned well, but more importantly I think the visitors were very careless and misused it,” said Ap Dorji, 67 who came to the tsachu with the hope to cure his constant backaches.

“It is quite ironic that visitors come to the place with a hope to receive some therapeutic benefits from the hot spring and then to have an unmanaged dirty toilet just right next to the ponds. From what I can draw from the whole picture, I think there is no particularly assigned to man the toilet here,” said another visitor, Jigme. He also added that it is also the responsibility of the visitors to maintain the sanitation of the toilets and that there is need for strict behavioral advocacy for the visitors.

The management however said that many of the visitors, irrespective of age, qualification or gender have poor toilet culture which hampers their effort in maintaining clean toilets in the long run. The manager at the hot spring, Tandin Dorji said that in order to bring about awareness and behavioral changes, each visitor is briefed well by the team on the possible ways of maintaining the hygiene of the toilets and the hot spring ponds. “For those visitors who are literate, we pasted notices and posters in regard to the dos and don’ts in the toilets or inside the ponds to maintain proper hygiene,” said Tandin Wangchuk.

With majority of the visitors preferring to stay mostly for few days or weeks at the hot spring, the manager pointed out that advocating is becoming quite a challenge for them with new visitors coming to the hot spring every few days. The hot spring received around 2,900 to 3,000 visitors last year.

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