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Hub of Khasi culture, Khasi Heritage Village in shambles

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Nartiang Monoliths, Meghalaya
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credits: northeastnews.in

By NewsGram Staff Writer

The hub of Khasi culture and a much awaited project of Mawphlang region, Khasi Heritage Village is currently in a miserable state.

The much awaited village project, which is spread across a sprawling eight-acre campus in Mawphlang district of Meghalaya, was initiated by the Congress-led Khasi Hills United Democratic Alliance (KHUDA). It had been sanctioned an estimated Rs.5.90 crores by the 13th financial commission.

But, various reports say that out of Rs. 5.90 crores, which was the amount originally allocated for the project, the contractor was paid only Rs. 2.80 crores, forcing him to abandon the work. As a result of which only ten huts, out of the 17 that were originally planned, have been built.

Many out of the already constructed ten huts are in a bad state. Most of the wooden furnitures are broken and the huts badly damaged.

The first edition of Monolith Festival was held here during October 2013 and was inaugurated by the then Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, V. Kishore Chandra Deo. The expenditure which incurred during the festival was approximately Rs. 20 lakh. The festival was a success and it was essentially planned out to be an annual affair. But, it couldn’t be conducted in 2014.

“The KHADC paid Rs.20 lakh to the Khasi Heritage Conservation Forum for holding the two-day Festival from October 25, 2013. Sohra legislator,Titus Chyne, was the Chairman of the Forum while Alan West was the Secretary,” an official source said.

Many questions were raised about the manner in which the funds were being spent for the Heritage Village Project. As a result, the KHADC CEM, Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, ordered an inquiry into the matter. He further stated that people had the right to know why the KHADC EC had failed to invite open tender for appointment of consultants, and also what were the reasons for the lack of transparency in the construction of public toilets worth Rs.32 lakh in the Heritage Village.

Due to pending allegations, the 2014 edition of the Monolith Festival could not be conducted. The outcome of the inquiry is yet to be made public, though the inquiry officer has submitted the final reports.

The ruling Congress-led PDF, is reportedly set to host the second addition of the Monolith Festival this year at the heritage village with an increased fund of Rs. 40 lakh for the four-day event. However, Basaiawmoit has questioned the decision of the EC to hike the fund allocation for the second edition of the festival.

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Land of Wanderlust: God’s Own Garden, Mawlynnong clings on to its Tranquillity

Mawlynnong, is located at a distance of 90kms from the state capital Shillong in the state Meghalaya. The village is also tagged as God’s own garden

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Living Root Bridge, by Debopriya Kumar.

November 9, 2016: Mawlynnong, is located at a distance of 90kms from the state capital Shillong in the state Meghalaya. The village is also tagged as God’s own garden because of its mind-boggling fresh natural beauty and clean environment.

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Until 2003, this was a remote community hardly anyone knew about, but after it got the prestigious tag of ‘Cleanest Village in Asia’ by Discover India Magazine, tourists started pouring in to witness the God’s own garden.

Mawlynnong is the home to the Khasi tribal people which is far away from noise and dirt of other cities.

“You would find Bamboo dustbins standing at the corner of each household,” said Debopriya Kumar, a Tourism enthusiast and a scholar of tourism studies who recently visited Mawlynnong.

The streets are swiped at regular intervals by volunteers and would find large signboards requesting visitors not to throw away plastics, as littering is something that is sternly frowned upon.

A Street of Mawlynnong Village. Picture taken by Debopriya Kumar.
A Street of Mawlynnong Village, by Debopriya Kumar.

He further said, “The local people say that the cleanliness was taught by their forefathers and they have kept their tradition going by keeping their surroundings clean.”

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“Though, Mawlynnong’s concern for hygiene emerged about 130 years ago when an outbreak of cholera struck. Since there were no medical facilities in the village back then, cleanliness was seen as the only way to prevent the spread of the disease.”

The village has also been hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said in an autumn radio address under his Clean India campaign, “I was amazed to know that there is such a village in remote northeast, Meghalaya, which is so passionately carrying the mission of cleanliness for years.”

In a conversation with NewsGram, Debopriya Kumar described how the walk through the village is like.

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“The living tree root bridges made by the locals are a beauty to watch, they entwined the roots of rubber trees in order to pave paths through the thick forest.”

The bridges are woven in such a manner that they are not slippery and are very sturdy.

– by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram. Twitter: @PinazKazi