Mawlynnong asia’s cleanest village; a model rural eco tourism (A Paradise Eco-Tourism Destination in Meghalaya)
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Destination to the Asia’s cleanest village, the Mawlynnong is not about my journey as a normal routine traveler but I was trying to explore out the relationship between human & environment as a paradigm shift from a Remote Rural Habitation to an advance eco-tourism heaven of the continent by evolving a dynamic rural entrepreneurship mindset to extract the key natural resources as a livelihood ingredient & the prevailing ecosystem & its biodiversity as an economic wheel to prosperity.
- Mawlynnong Asia’s Cleanest Village; A model Rural Eco-Tourism Kumar Deepak (Environmentalist) [email protected]
- Destination to the Asia’s cleanest village, the Mawlynnong is not about my journey as a normal routine traveler but I was trying to explore out the relationship between human & environment as a paradigm shift from a Remote Rural Habitation to an advance eco-tourism heaven of the continent by evolving a dynamic rural entrepreneurship mindset to extract the key natural resources as a livelihood ingredient & the prevailing ecosystem & its biodiversity as an economic wheel to prosperity. It was around 10 a.m. when I departed from Shilong. I was said to reach within 2-3 hrs, covering a distance of around 100kms from the State Capital of Meghalaya. The demographic transition of this State is occupied by three exclusively dominant tribes, the Garo, Khasi & Jayantia. Mawlynnong is situated in close proximity to the Bangladesh over the East Khasi range, dominated by Khasi tribes.
- While travelling, I easily reached at a conclusion that the economic prosperity of the State of Meghalaya is at most a gender driven. Women are the core economic driver in their matriarchal society. It’s been an exceptionally amazing view of India where three-fourth regions are raising a loud voice against the masculine dominance within the society. When gender specific atrocities of heinous degree like rape, domestic violence, sexual assault at public places, dowry death, female foeticides etc. have widely been becoming carcinoma in the majority of the Nation, this tribal matriarchal society is establishing a new socio-economic paradigm where one traces out a successful women entrepreneurship at all level of economic building.
- I was heading on the roadways to Shilong - Mawlynnnong. Forest cover over the Khasi mountain range is not only a scenery satisfaction for the tourists world-wide, but a paradise for those living in a congested & contaminated urban environment lacking a natural carbon sink system. Mountain valleys are covered with the moist deciduous forests with a rich biodiversity. The way to the cleanest village was, though imaging in my mind but I was focusing over the rich tribal adherence in understanding the core idea of the economics of forest ecosystem & its biodiversity in the wake of rising natural resources conflict. I agree with the Government’s new legislation towards restricting the purchase of tribal lands to the other hands strictly. The new legislation strictly defines that the tribes shall sell the lands to the specific tribes only. This legislation is helpful in mitigating the natural resources conflict. However there is going on a mass scale mining in this particular mountain ranges that has drastically been depleting the great forest reserves of this habitation.
- The concept of ‘cleanliness’ was visible in the rich natural environment. There were lots of queries going on spontaneously in my thought process. What made this rural habitation is one of the world classes ‘Eco-Tourism’ destination? Why is this village of Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in India & the Asian continent? What is the ‘cleanliness’ is all about? Why could we not develop such a rural eco-tourism destination in other parts of India? Is that scenery & rich natural ecosystem an attraction for travelers? How a resource deficit rural habitation is becoming a world class eco-tourism destination?
- Being an eco-tourism destination the role of local inhabitants are significantly comprehensive. I entered in Riwai village, a neighbor village to the Mawlynnong. The ‘Living Root Bridge’ is known as ‘Jingkieng Jri’ in Khasi language. The ‘Living Root Bridge’ is nothing but an extension of root system of Bunyan trees forming a natural living bridge system over the Riwai falls. This ‘Living Roots Bridge’ has been managed by local Panchayat bodies of the Riwai Village. The village develops into an eco-tourism spot & this ‘Living Root Bridge’ is the centre of attraction for all tourists… The Khasi-Garo-Jayantia chain is known for oranges production in India.
- Finally I reached to Mawlynnong at an around 12.45 pm. I was feeling my dream came true as what I imagined. I was feeling hungry so entered into a restaurant. It was beautifully crafted with the bamboo-wooden material. Rice is the main food ingredient. Non-veg are the major traditional food component. Being a remote rural tribal habitation, food is a little bit expansive. Nevertheless I was satisfied of being a traveler of the India’s sole global rural eco-tourism destination.
- The village is an absolute centre of attraction. Each house is built of naturally extracted bamboo & wooden material. The house is beautifully designed with naturally grown scenery of flowers & plants spaces as a garden space surrounding by a territorial bamboo made boundary. There is a separate sanitation & washroom. They have a separate guest accommodation as they know of the fact that their economy is by & large dependent over the revenues generated from tourism. Each of the homes provides separate accommodation with fooding & lodging both to the tourists those desires to stay there for some days.
- Every house has separate solar plate installation to generate clean energy. The alternative energy resource generation has made this village a self-reliant for their gross energy consumption. The Solar Energy generation Programme is being run in the association of Donton Solar House East Khasi Hills which is sponsored by Power System Operation Corporation Ltd in collaboration with The Energy Research Institute, TERI. This clean energy development reduces the load over the conventional electricity supply. There are somewhere found some wind-mills to integrate its self-reliance towards accessing clean energy. Every home has separate structure for rain-water harvesting. Water conservation is being adopted by all the villagers. WAH KHURI Integrated Water Development Programme project is running successfully in the Mawlynnong.
- Network of Concrete roads are connecting the streets of the village. There are solar street lamps alongside the roads. Every house has a bamboo-made dustbin at its exit point. Use of plastics has strictly been avoided from the day-to- day habit. Over the period of time, the village was developed as a sustainable Eco-Tourism destination. The villagers themselves have enhanced their capabilities to utilize the potential values as a key to the rural development. Being a 100% literate village, they adopted an eco-friendly sustainable simple habit to generate a global attraction to the travelers. They designed this village as such that tourists could analyze the significance of a healthy ecosystem in our life. They install natural attractions as a viewing site. One of them is the wonderful Sky View over a bamboo made uphill bridge system around a high alpine tree from where one can view the Bangladesh through the green hilly cover. The villagers formed some beautiful tree houses those are too the centre of attraction for the tourists. The villagers focus over developing a sustainable eco-tourism. Therefore they explored out naturally built sites for the purpose of inducing sustainability in tourism. The parameters of cleanliness of the village is its gross act of harnessing clean energy, restoring, harvesting & conserving water, no use of plastics, use of bamboo made dust bin, eco-friendly homes, eco-friendly discipline & behaviour to conserve & protect the forest ecosystem etc.
- Being a matriarchal social structure, it’s the best model to study how women are contributing significantly to develop a world-class sustainable tourism destination. The role of women is a part of the current model of green economics. Women role in the process of rural development has still been in serious dilemma in major part of India. The cleanest Village of Mawlynnong is a model for those remote tribal rural habitations where scarcity of resources has assisted a political baseline for vote bank engineering, lead to Naxal violence in many parts of the country. This village has limited production of food due to deficit productive land holdings. Therefore, the villagers emphasized over an applied literacy as a value addition to the rural development. They established this village for the traveler’s attraction & later on developing into an eco-tourism destination. The Mawlynnong Panchayat Body demands 50 INR/ Tourist for the management of the village. They have built restaurant, stalls & other occupations as per traveler’s needs. Meghalaya Tourism has been managing this destination.
- The Government of the Meghalaya has significantly been providing a better road connectivity to reach at the eco- tourism destination in an easy way. Now the villagers are importing rice & vegetables from Shilong & nearby areas. Mawlynnong is a model of modern day’s rural development through tribal tourism entrepreneurship. If we adopt such model in other part of rural, remote rural & tribal rural habitations, we won’t only move forward to attain an economic prosperity but we would adopt such a sustainable model to preserve & sustain our ecosystem & its resources in a long run of development to counter the adversity of Global Climate Change as well. If we work on installing clean energy development in our rural settlement, we could pass the surplus energy to our National grid. Rural Development is the corridor of our development dividends……