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Housing, water issues top priorities for Thimphu, finds report

With a population of 160,000 by 2027, Thimphu would produce about 99MT of waste a day

In the next 10 years, Thimphu with a population of 160,000 is likely to face a water shortage of 3.1 million liters a day, according to a strategic environment assessment (SEA) for Thimphu structure plan (TSP) draft report.

Today, only 30 percent of the service area in Thimphu receives 24 hours water supply while the remaining 70 percent receives intermittent supplies ranging from three to eight hours a day.

The draft report was presented at a public consultation meeting in Thimphu yesterday. The report recommends preserving water sources, creating awareness on water conservation, strengthening existing water distribution scheme and implementing the Thimphu Water Safety Plan.

The need for a water supply master plan for Thimphu thromde, storm water master plan and a thromde transport plan was also recommended.

National Environment Commission Secretariat’s environment officer, Tshering Dhendup, said that infrastructure development, inhabitant, goods and services, waste, transport, risk and hazards and resource utilisation were studied for the assessment.

He said that SEA gives an analytical and participatory approach to strategic decision-making and aims to integrate environmental and social considerations into policies, plans and programmes.

Considering various reports estimating Thimphu’s population in 2027, the SEA created two scenarios with a population of 160,000 and 200,000 by 2027. Last year, Thimphu’s population stood at 99,655.

Based on these two different populations, the draft report also studied sewerage generation and sewerage design, water supply and demand, solid waste generation and vehicles in Thimphu.

Deputy Chief Urban Planner with the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS), Tshering Dorji said that solid waste generation would increase to 124 metric tons a day from 99 metric tons if a scenario with a population of 200,000 is considered.

He said that by 2027 with a population of 200,000, the vehicle number is expected to increase to 87,989 from 43,843 today. “That is equal to five people having two vehicles.”

He added that increasing rental rates have put the need for affordable housing in Thimphu.

Although TSP has projected that the population in both the scenarios can be accommodated in the future, Tshering Dorji said that the need to focus on affordable housing and the need for a strong and clear policy guidance were essential.

Among the issues identified through the assessment, the report prioritised land use, slope analysis, disaster, governance, water, sewerage, storm water, solid waste, transport and housing.

Deputy Chief Environment Officer with MoWHS, Sonam Desel said, that the draft report, which is in its initial stage could be used as a reference for policy makers.

She said that public consultation meetings are important to identify additional issues for an inclusive assessment report. “After receiving the comments, we want to rework on the draft. When we assess Thimphu structure plan, we also have areas such as Namseyling, Kabisa, Debsi, all of which contribute and impact the development of Thimphu.”

Public consultation meeting will be held today and tomorrow in Thimphu. The report will then be presented to stakeholders.

The MoWHS, Thimphu thromde, National Environment Commission and the Gross National Happiness Commission worked on the SEA. The work, which started in June 2017, is expected to complete by June, this year.

Phurpa Lhamo

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