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PDP almost achieved all its environment-related pledges

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government counted Bhutan for Life as one of party’s major pledges that it achieved.

According to the 11th Plan report, for sustainable funding of environmental conservation initiatives in the country, a total of USD 43 million was committed under the Fund.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay stated that in its efforts to maintain green coverage, the government established Green Bhutan Corporation Limited (GBCL) as a government-owned corporation for landscaping, urban greening, plantation and floriculture. “Besides our carbon neutral pledge, we have dedicated over 50 percent of our country as protected biological corridors and restricted development in these areas.”

Other green initiatives included replacement of incandescent bulbs used at home and in street lighting. Through the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in collaboration with National Environment Commission (NEC), the government also set up the air quality monitoring station (AQMS) at Thimphu, Phuentsholing, and Gedu.

The government through the fiscal incentives, sales tax and custom duty exemptions on green building or construction materials, sales tax and custom duty exemptions on plant and machinery for waste management or recycling industry, and tax rebate on the up-gradation expenses for adoption modern environment-friendly technologies prioritised and promoted green businesses.

According to the 11th Plan report, 731 functional community forestry groups were established in the country. This, the party claimed, was in line with the government’s pledge to encourage community forests and to incentivise product marketing of community forestry groups.

To make towns bicycle-friendly, first biking trail connecting Kuenselphodrang to Depsi in Thimphu was constructed in 2015. A 27.5km multipurpose trail from Taba to Buddha Point was also paved.

The party claims to have promoted renewable energy to reduce dependency on fossil fuels by installing a 600kw wind turbine among others.

The 11th Plan report stated that over 14,000 improved cooking or heating stove were installed and over 5,000 biogas plants were established in the country. “Free electricity up to 100 units is provided to rural households to reduce the use of firewood.”

Rural Liquid Petroleum Gas scheme was also initiated in eight dzongkhags covering 82 gewogs to improve access to cleaner fuels, the Plan report stated.

For environmental conservation and sustainable development, PDP government pledged to initiate a detailed study to evaluate the impacts of climate

change in Bhutan. It was stated that the National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) would be revised to come up with appropriate adaptation and mitigation plans to fight the impacts of climate change in Bhutan. Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning Report was published in 2016. The NAPA II project was also identified as one of the 12 policies and strategies adopted to protect the environment.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the government approved and adopted more than 12 environment-related policies and strategies in the 11th Plan.

Concerning the party’s pledge to encourage sustainable and environmental mining, NECS today conducts assessments. NECS signed a compliance agreement for improvement of the environmental requirements with the mining promoters and industries.

PDP had also pledged to strengthen the National Environmental Commission (NEC) to ensure that it commanded more authority to oversee that economic plans are in line with environmental ethics and standards.

To promote eco-friendly public transport buses and providing tax incentives for import of green vehicles including taxis were also one of the pledges of PDP. While plans were introduced to install electric car charging systems and support taxi drivers buying electric vehicle with a 20 percent subsidy, the pledge remains unfulfilled.

Similarly, the government did not fulfill it’s pledge to put in place an e-waste regulation.

While strict monitoring systems and equipment were installed in the country to monitor the industrial pollution, PDP’s pledge to encourage reduction of industrial pollution by use of newer and better technologies remains unfulfilled too.

Phurpa Lhamo

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