Mawlynnong asia’s cleanest village; a model rural eco tourism (A Paradise Eco-Tourism Destination in Meghalaya)


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PowerPoint Presentation Mawlynnong Asia’s Cleanest Village; A model Rural Eco-Tourism Kumar Deepak (Environmentalist) 48 RURAL&MARKETING FEBRUARY 2014 UNIQUE VILLAGE MAWLYNNONG A ROLE MODEL VILLAGE Mawlynnong in Meghalaya is Asia’s cleanest village and has been a major tourist destination. The place is known for its cleaniness and conserving its ecosystem. Many factors have made it one of the cleanest places, and it can be a role model in the world. My journey to Asia’s cleanest village, Mawlynnong , was not the journey of a routine traveler. I was trying to explore the relationship between human and environment; a paradigm shift from a rural habitat to an eco-tourism heaven of the continent, evolving a dynamic rural entrepreneurship mindset, extracting natural resourc- es as livelihood, and the preverving ecosystem and its biodiversity as prosperity engine. It is a journey covering a distance of around 100kms from the state’s capital. The demography of the state comprises of three exclusively dominant tribes: Garo, Khasi and Jayantia. Mawlynnong is situated in close proximity to Bangladesh on the East Khasi range, and it is dominated by the Khasi tribes. During the journey I arrived at the conclusion that the economic prosperity of the state of Meghalaya is, at most, gender-driven. Women are the core economic driver in this matriarchal society. This tribal ma- triarchal society has established a new socio-economic paradigm and its success can be attributed to fe- male entrepreneurship at all levels of economy building. The forest-covered Khasi moun- tain range is not only a scenery sat- isfaction for the tourists world-wide but a paradise for those living in a congested and contaminated ur- ban environment without a natural carbon sink system. Mountain and plains are covered with moist decid- uous forests with rich biodiversity. On my way to the cleanest village my mind was on the tribal adher- ence in understanding the core idea of the forest ecosystem and its biodi- versity in the wake of rising natural Government’s legislation to restrict outsiders from buying tribal lands. This legislation is helpful in mitigat- However, there is mass scale min- ing going on in the state and it has been depleting the great forest re- serves of this habitat. What is unique about the place is the visible concept of ‘cleanliness’ in the rich natural environment. Being an eco-tourism destination the role of local inhabitants is sig- Deepak Kumar Riwai village, a neighbouring vil- lage, there I witnessed ‘Living Root Bridge’, ‘Jingkieng Jri’ in Khasi. ‘Living Root Bridge’ is an extension of Bunyan tree roots, forming a natu- ral living bridge over the Riwai falls. The bridge is managed by the local Panchayat bodies of Riwai Village. Today the village has developed it an eco-tourism spot and it has be- come a major tourist attraction. - nong I felt that my dream had come true. The restaurant adorned with beautifully crafted with bamboo material even heightened it. What I could order there was rice, the staple food, and traditional non- vegetarian dishes. Being a remote rural tribal habitat food is a little bit - ing a traveler in India’s sole global rural eco-tourist destination. RURAL&MARKETING FEBRUARY 2014 49 MAWLYNNONG In the village each house is built with naturally extracted bamboo and wooden materials. Houses are beau- tifully designed with locally grown As an advanced tourist destina- tion, there is separate sanitation, and separate guest accommodation are created as they are aware of the fact that their economy is by and large dependent on the revenues generated from tourism. So each home provides separate accommo- dation with fooding and lodging to the tourists who wish to stay there for some days. For energy, every house has sepa- rate solar plate installed to harvest clean energy. The alternative energy resource generation has made this village self-reliant for their gross energy consumption. This clean en- ergy development reduces the load over the conventional electricity supply. The Solar Energy genera- tion Programme is being run in as- sociation with Donton Solar House East Khasi Hills. The programme is sponsored by Power System Opera- tion Corporation Ltd in collaboration with The Energy Research Institute, TERI. Going further, every home has separate structure for rain-water har- vesting. Water conservation is being adopted by all the villagers. Like most well-lit and maintained cities, there are solar street lamps along- side the roads. Every house has a bamboo-made dustbin at its exit point. Use of plastics has strictly been avoided. Over the period of time, the vil- lage was developed as a sustainable Eco-Tourism destination. The villag- ers themselves have enhanced their capabilities to utilize the potential values as a key to the rural develop- ment. Being a 100% literate village, they have adopted an eco-friendly sustainable simple habit to generate global travelers. The villagers have explored and built tourist attractions while ensur- ing that the ecosystem of the place remains intact. The parameters of cleanliness of the village comprise of harnessing clean energy, restor- ing, harvesting and conserving water, no use of plastics, use of bamboo made dust bin, eco-friendly homes, eco-friendly discipline and lifestyle to conserve and protect the forest. If we adopt such model in other part of remote rural and tribal habitats, we won’t only move forward to attain economic prosperity but we would adopt such a sustainable model to preserve and sustain our ecosystem. This surely also is a measure to counter the adversity of Global Cli- mate Change as well. (The writer is an environmentalist at UDNP) The forest-covered Khasi mountain range is not only a scenery satisfaction for the tourists but also a paradise for those living in a congested and contami- nated environment.