Set amidst tall pine trees and a grassy area, with the mighty PhoChhu next to it, Zomlingthang in Punakha is reputed for camping or gathering for a picnic with family and friends.
After the Covid-19 pandemic, people have been prevented from gathering or even camping at Zomlingthang.
However, with the recent relaxation by the government, the Punakha Dzongkhag has also allowed people to picnic but camping at night has been restricted.
While the police monitor crowds both during the day and night, the dzongkhag has been struggling with the garbage problem at Zomlingthang, especially on weekends and whenever there is an occasion to celebrate.
Before the pandemic, locals, people from Thimphu, Wangduephodrang and also from Paro, travel to pitch tents and stay overnight or have a picnic at Zomlingthang.
Talking to Business Bhutan, Sr. Dzongrab of Punakha, Ugyen Tshering said that despite efforts to keep the place clean after a picnic or any kind of gathering, people leave a lot of garbage which they have to clean.
“For example, Zomlingthang on Thruebab (Blessed Rainy Day) was flooded by people but the next day the place was filled with garbage. To ensure that people take back their waste, the dzongkhag had even deputed two people to monitor at Zomlingthang, but all in vain,” he said.
Earlier, the dzongkhag had placed two dustbins at Zomlingthang so that people could dispose of their waste, but the residents dumped their waste there instead.
On weekdays, there is not as much waste as on weekends, said the senior Dzongrab.
While the dzongkhag is struggling to solve the garbage problem, they are also careful not to hurt the people by denying them not to picnic and gather at Zomthingthang.
The residents of Retsa village in Punakha’s Guma Gewog, just a few meters from Zomlingthang, have become victims of noise pollution, especially at night when people camp with loud music playing till the wee hours of the morning.
Sr. Dzongrab narrated an incident where in 2020, a family member had died in one of the houses in Retsa village and the members were grieving.
“But people played loud music disturbing the neighborhood and after complaints from them restrictions on night camping were put in place,” he added.
Talking about some of the future plans, he said that if the Dzongkhag receives a budget from the government then the dzongkhag has plans to build fencing around Zomlingthang and create uniform car parking. “Today people park their car at their convenience.”
He also said that the Dzongkhag has a plan to deploy a caretaker, open toilets and beautify Zomlingthang at later stages.
Chencho Dema from Punakha