A very small village in the north-east part of India, along the Bangladesh border, is declared as the cleanest village in Asia. Yes, I am talking about Mawlynnong, in the State of Meghalaya. Surprisingly, while many of us may not be aware of the existence of this small village of India, yet it has created a name of its own in the global map as the cleanest village in Asia.
Farming is the main occupation of the people of this region. There are altogether 82 households in the village with a population of not more than 500. This beautiful village with a mesmerising natural scenic beauty, lush greenery all around, abundance of flowering orchids, small streams, along with the magnificent root bridge is a delight to visit.
But, here I am stressing on not the scenic beauty of the village, but what makes it the cleanest village? How it has succeeded to maintain the cleanliness for all these years, in spite of global warming and pollution all around? If a small village can do so, then why not the other regions? Why can’t all States, cities, towns and villages follow suit? Mawlynnong village is in fact a very good example for others to follow.
The do’s and don’ts in Mawlynnong
The moment you enter Mawlynnong, a huge billboard welcomes you with the caption ‘Welcome to Mawlynnong – God’s Own Garden’ and at the same time you also get to read a list of do’s and don’ts on how to keep the village clean. These do’s and don’ts are for everyone: the locals as well as the visitors. It is said that this 100-year old village has a long tradition of keeping the environment clean as the locals are worshippers of nature. The tradition is still continuing generation after generation. Each and every individual residing here, including the old and the children, all are responsible to keep the village clean. It is a joint effort by everyone and maybe that is the reason it has become a heritage site today.
Green initiatives taken by Mawlynnong
- Bamboo dustbin: One of the key highlights of the region is the bamboo dustbins placed in every nook and corner of the village. Completely spic and span, no one is allowed to throw any kind of litter on the ground. Everyone has to throw garbage in the bamboo dustbins. Every kind of wastes, even leaves that have fallen from trees are immediately discarded.
- Converting garbage into compost: It is worth noting that this small village has on its own taken up the initiative of collecting wastes and garbage from the dustbins. These are then kept in a pit dug in a forest nearby and then converted into manure.
- Plastic bags and smoking banned: While all over India we keep on discussing that plastics should be banned, Mawlynnong is the only village in the country which has literally followed banning of plastics. No plastics are allowed in the village. Smoking is also banned in the village.
- Imposing fines: The village council of Mawlynnong is also strict in matters related to cleanliness and fines are imposed on anyone who throws litter around. Fines are also imposed on anybody seen cutting trees, though this is a very rare sight in the village.
- Locals involved in cleaning: While there are daily wage sweepers to clean the roads, it is a common sight in the village to see even the local Khasi residents cleaning the roads, picking up dry leaves and throwing wastes in the bamboo bins.
- Cleanliness taught in schools: Strange but true, lessons on cleanliness are imparted on kids and young children at school so that they know to remain clean and hygiene and maintain cleanliness. Kids are taught not to throw litter on the ground and keep their surroundings clean and green. Children are also taught to collect litter.
- Planting of trees: Planting of tress is a regular scenario in the village. The locals enjoy bountiful of fruits and vegetables grown in the forests of the village. However, they are not allowed to use it for any commercial purpose.
- Sanitation: Another important highlight of the village is that while in most rural villages in India, there are no toilets available and no proper sanitation facilities, Mawlynnong is one such village in India where every household has one attached toilet. There are also public toilets available for visitors and neighbouring villagers, which can be used by paying a nominal amount. The village is well-supplied with local water supply.
- Women empowerment: Mawlynnong is also different from other rural villages in India in the sense that women in this village are economically more powerful. Khasi tribes belong to the matriarchal society where women are economically independent. While men are involved in farming, the women of the households man the shops everywhere.
- 100% literacy: Here, there is 100% literacy. Besides being the cleanest city in Asia, Mawlynnong village has earned the distinction of being the highest educated village in India. Here, almost everyone can speak fluent English.
Can other villages, towns and cities replicate Mawlynnong?
The village council of Mawlynnong is always on its toes to create awareness among the people about cleanliness and the dangers of global warming and pollution through workshops it organises time to time. The villagers are trained to save their trees and forest. They are fined if they are caught using any forest products for commercial use. There is a sense of self-determination among the locals. Each and everyone has carried on the tradition of maintaining cleanliness in the village.
Modern cities and rural villages should learn from Mawlynnong’s experience. I feel that every Indian should follow the example of the Khasi villagers. If they can do it, then why can’t we? All we need are responsible and conscientious Indians who will take up the cause of protection of the environment.