Thursday October 19, 2017
Home India Hub of Khasi ...

Hub of Khasi culture, Khasi Heritage Village in shambles

0
690
Nartiang Monoliths, Meghalaya

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.

Next Story

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

0
198
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.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India

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.”

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues

“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.

Look for latest news from India in NewsGram

“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

Next Story

Kids working in India’s coal mines came as ‘complete shock’, says Filmmaker Chandrasekhar Reddy

India has 5.7 million child workers aged between five and 17 and there are 168 million child workers globally, says ILO

2
357
Coal mines in India. Image source: www.amusingplanet.com India
  • International Labor Organization estimates there are 168 million child workers globally
  • The film tells the story of Suraj, an 11-year-old boy, who was born in India of Nepali parents
  • Many workers are from countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, who are often trafficked with the promise of good jobs or are in debt bondage to powerful mine owners

MUMBAI– When Chandrasekhar Reddy travelled to northeastern India in 2011, the director was looking for material for a film on forests in the region famed for its misty hills and waterfalls.

Instead, he found children as young as five working in coal mines.

Horrified yet fascinated, Reddy stayed in Meghalaya state for several months, befriending the children and their families, and slowly gaining access to the mines, many of which are illegal.

Reddy eventually gathered enough material for his first feature-length documentary, ‘Fireflies in the Abyss’, which was released in India last week after winning the award for Best Film in the Mumbai International Film Festival in February.

Set in the Jaintia Hills, the documentary shows young boys descending steep chutes – little more than “rat holes”- with makeshift ladders to dig coal from hard rock with just a pickaxe and a flashlight.

“The fact that children were working in the mines came as a complete shock to me,” Reddy told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook: NewsGram.com

“So many of my preconceived notions of what is right and wrong, the state, the law, the police, families and relationships – they were all turned on their head, as it is a very different world there,” he said.

The film tells the story of Suraj, an 11-year-old boy, who was born in India of Nepali parents.

He lives with his sister and father, a miner who is drunk most of the time. His mother is dead.

Suraj desperately wants to go to school but is expected to work to help feed the family.

Despite a law that bans child labour, India has 5.7 million child workers aged between five and 17, according to the International Labor Organization which estimates there are 168 million child workers globally.

A child works in a mining factory in Kashmir. Image source: www.aljazeera.com
A child works in a mining factory in Kashmir. Image source: www.aljazeera.com

Activists estimate that about a fifth of all mine workers in India are children. Many works for more than 10 hours a day in filthy conditions, exposed to coal dust, silica dust, noxious fumes and the risk of injury or death from collapsing mines.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter: @newsgram1

“Fear won’t get any work done; you need to give up worrying about your life,” one of the young boys with Suraj says.

“But if you die here, it’s a dog’s death.”

In Meghalaya, which means “abode of clouds” in Sanskrit, many workers are from the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bangladesh. They are often trafficked with the promise of good jobs or are in debt bondage to powerful mine owners.

In a 2012 report, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, an umbrella group of charities, said children working in the mines in Jaintia Hills faced “hazardous conditions” with no safety or social welfare measures.

While state officials have downplayed the prevalence of child labour, the report said the presence of rat holes indicated child workers since it was “humanly not possible for an adult to enter those holes to extract coal”.

In the end, Suraj gets his chance at receiving an education – with the help of some friends, who also worked in the mines.

“The mine workers live in such uncertainty, such desperation, yet there is so much camaraderie and solidarity,” said Reddy.

“Perhaps that’s what keeps them going, and gives some of them the hope that things can change,” he said. (Reuters)

ALSO READ:

2 responses to “Kids working in India’s coal mines came as ‘complete shock’, says Filmmaker Chandrasekhar Reddy”

  1. Child labour is illegal and working in a coal mine is even more hazardous. Thanks to Mr. Reddy for making a feature film on this issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Next Story

Meghalaya HC directs Centre to enforce AFSPA in Garo Hills

0
104

Shillong: The Meghalaya High Court has directed the central government to enforce the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, (AFSPA) 1958 in the insurgency-ravaged districts of Garo Hills to control the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

The high court also directed the union home secretary and defence secretary to ensure compliance by placing this order before the central government to consider the use of AFSPA and deployment of armed and para-military forces in the Garo Hills.

It further directed the principal secretary in the PMO to place the order before Prime Minister Narendra Modi for perusal and consideration.

The order of the full bench of Chief Justice Uma Nath Singh, Justice T.N.K. Singh and Justice S.R. Sen, issued late Monday, is significant coming in the wake of the recent kidnapping and killing of an Intelligence Bureau officer Bikash Kumar Singh and businessman Kamal Saha by A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok militants and abduction of government official Jude Rangku T. Sangma by Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants. Sangma was released early Tuesday.

“We have no option but to direct the central government to consider the use of AFSPA in the Garo Hills area and deployment of armed and para-military forces to control the situation in the aid of but certainly not under the command of civil and police authorities till life becomes normal and the incidents of rampant kidnapping and killing are totally stopped,” the court noted.

“We are also not oblivious of the fact that with great power comes great responsibility to exercise self-restraint, especially in the exercise of powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, but now since the law and order situation in the Garo Hills has deteriorated beyond redemption, we have no option but to issue certain serious directions in order to protect the civil liberties and fundamental rights of the common citizens as well as the public servants,” the order stated.

Maintaining that the central government can enforce AFSPA for the purpose of deployment of armed forces in the aid of civil administration in order to restore public order and maintain the law and order, the court said: “Such deployment of armed forces would be only for the purpose of enabling the civil authorities in the state to deal with the situation effectively so that there is a regime of rule of law.”

Observing that there was no end to violent incidents perpetrated by Garo National Liberation Army and other militants, including calling bandhs in Garo Hills, the court said: “… the police and civil authorities, despite the best of their efforts, are not able to control the incidents of kidnapping for ransom and killings on non-fulfilment of illegal demands and the native population is totally exposed to the influence of militancy, and the funds allocation by the Central Government has not helped in ameliorating the decline of law and order”.

In its 13-page order, the court also quoted data supplied by the Meghalaya Police on the abduction of 87 people — 25 civilians, 27 businessmen, 25 private sector employees, five government employees and five teachers — for ransom in different parts of Garo Hills from January to October 31 by Garo militants.

“It is also informed that the majority of Garo population reside in villages and they are basically dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood. Though the population is just about seven lakh, yet they are not feeling secured and they have to live totally exposed to the mercy of insurgents who raise all kinds of illegal demands, including food and shelter,” the order said.

Pointing out that even the chief justice and judges of the high court were getting “veiled threats” through anonymous letters, the bench said: “It may not be proper for us to say anything about our security which is, for the present, being looked after by the state.

“Generally, we put all such anonymous letters into shredders but since two of us are to lay our office in January and February, 2016, and third one in March, 2019, one cannot claim to be fully safe and secured.”

The court has fixed November 18 as the next date for hearing of the matter.

(IANS)