Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Bhutan : "No Vehicle Day" every Tuesday for Agriculture Ministry

August 27: The Agriculture Minister Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho and Agriculture Ministry officials in the capital walked to office yesterday in a bid to reduce pollution and traffic congestion. He will be the first Cabinet Minister to walk to office. They intend to walk to office and back home every Tuesday.

The initiative is part of the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) government’s manifesto.

In what was described as an unusual step, the staff of the Agriculture Ministry led by the Minister himself walked to office yesterday. Leaving their cars at home and walking to office is exactly what the minister and the staff of the Agriculture Ministry will be doing every Tuesday.

The move, the first of its kind in the country, is initiated by the Agriculture Minister Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho. It aims to limit the use of cars thereby reducing pollution and traffic congestion, improve health and preserve the country’s pristine environment.

BBS talked to some of the staff as they entered the office premises. They described the experience as refreshing and exciting. They said this is a small step towards fighting pollution.

Shortly after everybody arrived, they gathered at the conference hall.
The minister congratulated and expressed gratitude to the staff for their support.

The Minister said with the theme “Helping our Environment, Health and Economy (HEHE),” the initiative is a way of showing that there are simple steps that people can take to reduce pollution.

He said limiting the use of cars has other benefits too. It will cut down fuel expenses thereby reducing both personnel and government expenses. He said a record would be maintained to find out how much money is being saved through the “no vehicle day” initiative.

He said the initiative will also encourage the public to use public transport services.

Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho said the move is also socially healthy. He said while driving people’s concentration is fully on the road. But while walking people talk and interact with each other, a social habit that is disappearing fast with the changing times.

The usually packed parking lot in the Ministry premises was empty yesterday.

But, the challenge is whether the Ministry would be able to sustain the initiative.

The Agriculture Minister said efforts would be made towards it.

He said gradually other similar initiatives will be worked out.

There are close to 200 people in the Agriculture Ministry. Almost every staff owns a car.

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