Thursday, March 12, 2015

Crime Hidden in Pine Forest

In 2003, I was severely ill in the first week I reached Sombaykha Primary School. I wanted to run back home but I was officially four days away from everything familiar to me. I knew I was going to die in the place so new and so remote. Everything about the place made me lonely. It was then that I accidentally broke a thick red ruler in headmaster's office. You won't believe how the scent of pinewood that came from the broken ruler suddenly made my heart race. I took the two broken pieces with me and kept them hear my pillow. From the next morning I felt more alive than ever.

Coming back to Paro and living among the Pine trees is a gift of natural happiness. I know the trees, I grew up with them, I played on their branches and slept under their shade. The scent from the free sends me heart dancing. I am home. But wait, what's under those trees?

Below my training centre in Dop Shari, there is a small patch of pine trees. It's too small to be called a forest but the small group of trees seemed to have survived so many human interventions. Between the trees and the road there is clearly a pit overflowing with garbage. It doesn't seem like a recent activity but now that we live and work in that area, people could easily blame it on us. My colleague Ram took it on to himself to clear that area as part of his social initiative. He got us gloves and sacks.

We thought an afternoon would be enough but as we dug we discovered that the place was used for ages. The waste was obviously from a hotel- countless wrappers of milk, sugar, biscuit, frozen chicken, wine bottles, broken plates and glasses, carton boxes,... It doesn't require much intelligence to analyse that the former occupant of our office was responsible. This place was earlier a tourist hotel, and evidently a very irresponsible one.

Tip of Plastic Iceberg
What we discovered later broke my heart completely. Beyond the pit, cleverly hidden under the pine trees was a secret world of plastic. It was clearly years of intentional and irresponsible dumping of plastic waste, which should be a criminal offence to the nation. It's a wonder how the authorities didn't spot at least the pit that was just below road to Paro Dzong.

The bigger question is, where are other hotels hiding their waste? I have seen a few patches of landfill here and there in Paro. Above Gaptay I have seen a depression in the woods filled with hotel waste, and above that I have seen at least three hotels. It seems to a trend in Paro to hide their waste in the woods. I would therefore like to alert National Environment Commission and Tourism Council of Bhutan to investigate this issue in Paro and perhaps elsewhere in the country. 

Revealing the Hidden
In Paro the problem must have cropped from the failure of the Dzongkhag Municipal. I assume that they can't possibly assist the hotels in managing their waste when they seem to fail in managing the waste in the middle of the town. The waste collecting trucks are small and manually operated, and the frequency of collection seems very less. The bins placed at prime locations are small even for a single user, and therefore are seen overflowing perpetually. Everything seems so half hearted.

Wherever the problem is there seems to be a serious need of intervention. This beautiful country we are so proud of may soon lose its countless adjectives, and our proud environmental efforts may just turn into myths on paper. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh it's so sad. If this continues on, it will cause a greater effect to the environment in the near future. Hope the authority will look into this and impose a 'fine' to the responsible individual and corporate who cause this to happen like what we have here in Singapore.

    At the same time educate the people and other awareness about the preservation of the nature and keep the area clean are also necessary plus providing the right place to dump and clear the rubbish regularly.

    ReplyDelete

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