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Thimchu venue for ‘Clean Bhutan’ launch on Feb. 6 February 1, 2014

The stream-and-river-cleaning component of the project is all set to take off

Environment; Thimphu: Bhutan.The cleaning of streams and rivers in the country under the Clean Bhutan project kicks off on February 6 in Thimphu from the Thimchu, project officials said.

Using two rafts, about 300 volunteers, including 20 project staff, would thoroughly clean the river and the riverbed from Lingkana until the sewerage tank in Babesa. The project website will also be launched on the same day.
Project coordinator Nedup Tshering said the volunteers would be divided into groups. “Some will raft through the river, while others will walk along the banks collecting garbage,” he said, adding they will also maintain a record of waste collected and segregate for recycling.

Following the launch of the project, Nedup Tshering said all streams and rivers in Thimphu and Paro would be cleaned twice a month. The project will be divided into three phases with each focus area – Thimphu and Paro rivers, Thimphu and Paro trekking routes; and Thimphu and Paro thromdes – piloted for three years each.
Project officials said Clean Bhutan’s areas of action are to save rivers from becoming a dumpyard; clean trekking routes; and have zero waste towns. The trekking routes including day hike paths in Thimphu and Paro, would be cleaned in March just before the trekking season begins.

A daylong survey on waste in Thimchu, which was done in September last year, found more prayer flags than pet bottles or other waste in the river. “From Pangrizampa to Babesa, most spots along the river had prayer flags,” Nedup Tshering said.

Unlike pet bottles, Nedup Tshering said, prayer flags aren’t valued much after people string them. “I feel people should use degradable prayer flags.”

Although no studies have been done on the kinds of waste dumped into the rivers, national environment commission officials said the daylong survey couldn’t substantiate the conclusion of prayers flags being the most common solid waste in rivers. “It was just a reconnaissance survey,” the commission’s compliance monitoring division chief, Thinley Dorji said.

Thinley Dorji said pet bottles and other waste get easily washed away, while prayer flags get stuck between stones and twigs in the rivers.

“But it’s a concern with all forms of prayer flags available and used in the country,” he said, adding people are not responsible today.He suggested people to use cotton prayer flags over synthetic ones. “I don’t think it would serve the purpose, if the materials lasted and the scripts wear off,” he said.

Last month, lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay announced the government’s waste management plan, the Clean Bhutan project, and, to keep the capital city green, the Green Thimphu project.

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