Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned about the cleanest village, Mawlynnong, in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio broadcast on September 25 this year. As the popular radio show completes one year, here is a report on this wonderful village of Meghalaya.
Mawlynnong village is at a distance of around 90 km from Shillong, and the road leading up to it has some of the most panoramic and breathtaking views. As one walks around the narrow zigzagging paths of the village one is astounded by the clean well maintained spotless front-yards and sidewalks of the bamboo stilt houses. There are stylish bamboo dustbins everywhere and separate compost pits in various pockets of the village for organic and inorganic wastes. Polythene’s use is completely banned.
There are public toilets which the villagers themselves maintain and everyone takes part in the ritual weeding, sweeping and cleaning of the gardens and roads which happens every evening. The entire village functions as one unit and helps out families that cannot afford basic sanitation and other amenities.
Even the children are taught from an early age to keep their surroundings clean and they don’t hesitate to pick up the odd piece of garbage on the road and put it in the bin. The village is well supplied with an efficient localised water supply and sanitation system.
There is a lot urban society could learn from Mawlynnong and its environmentally conscious citizens. The self-sustaining models have strong foundations and have more to do with behaviour and customs that the people have adhered to and upheld. The village with hundred per cent literacy is conscious and they are spreading the message of conservation and protection of the forest.
Mawlynnong has emerged as one of the popular tourist destinations in the State of Meghalaya and it has, gradually attracted the attention of tourists and holiday makers both from Bharat and abroad. The village offers picturesque natural beauty, a trek to the living root bridge at a neighbouring village Riwai. The village is quite pretty, especially in the monsoons when there is lush greenery all around, with waterfalls paving the way to small streams and abundance of flowering orchids dangling from the trees and hedges add to the beauty of the village. The village also offers breathtaking view of Bangladesh plains as it is located on the Bharat-Bangla border.
The village has set an example for others that can be replicated in other villages.With better technology and infrastructural support, Bharateeya cities can certainly take Mawlyn-nong’s concepts forward and create self sustaining environment systems with minimal damage to the eco-systems. All we need are more responsible and conscientious citizens who will take up the cause of the environment. Mawlynnong is famous for its matrilineal society. It comes under the Pynursla Community Development Block and legislative assembly constituency.
The literacy rate is 100 per cent. Agriculture is the chief occupation of the local population, with betel nut being the main crop. The people residing in the community are Khasi people. As is the tradition of the Khasi people, in Mawlynnong property and wealth are passed from the mother to the youngest of her daughters, who also keeps the mother’s surname. The village is known for its cleanliness. The waste is collected in the dustbins made of bamboo, directed to a pit and then used as manure.
Mawlynnong Village is situated in the East Khasi Hills of the beautiful Meghalaya, also referred as ‘God’s own garden’. It has won the acclaim of being the cleanest village in Asia by the Discover India Magazine and has been reinforced by the BBC, UNESCO and National Geographic. For the Mawlynnong village, cleanliness is a tradition. The people of Mawlynnong village ensure that their environment is clean and their way of living is sustainable to the environment.
During the popular ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme in All India Radio, the Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing, highlighted the cleanliness of Mawlynnong Village. He was amazed to know that there is such a village in remote North-East. Meghalaya has been devoted to cleanliness for several years. He said that Meghalaya has been passionately carrying the mission of cleanliness for years and this “infuses confidence in us that our country will surely be clean through the efforts of the countrymen”. He also said that in 2019, when Bharat will be celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 125 crore people of the country would proudly say “We have made Bharat garbage free”.
V Shanmuganathan (The writer is Governor of Meghalaya)