“A small village in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya has become the envy of its neighbours. Large crowds of visitors have been thronging to the village curious to find out why Mawlynnong has earned the reputation for being arguably the cleanest and best educated in India – all its residents can read and write and each house has a toilet”.
Discover India magazine declared Mawlynnong as the cleanest village in Asia in 2003
“About 90km from the state capital Shillong and barely 4km from the Bangladeshi border, Mawlynnong is much loved by its inhabitants who work hard to keep it clean”.
“The streets are all dotted with dustbins made of bamboo. Every piece of litter and almost every leaf that has fallen from a tree is immediately discarded. Plastic is completely banned and all waste disposal is environmentally friendly. Rubbish is thrown into a pit dug in a forest near the village where it is left to turn into compost”.
“The villagers here say that lessons in hygiene start in school so that children can be taught from an early age how to keep their surroundings clean and green”.
“There is a fine imposed by the village council for anybody found to be throwing litter around or cutting trees [...] says village headman Thomlin Khongthohrem. Children are taught to collect litter at an early age. “Besides, the council carries out strict inspections of the sanitation facilities in each house”.
Experts attribute the village’s cleanliness an effective local governance system, a matrilineal society which makes women economically more powerful, and the local inhabitants’ respect for nature. Mawlynnong’s reputation for cleanliness has made it a popular destination for tourists. The Meghalaya state government is promoting eco-tourism in the area but the locals, who have a “fierce sense of self-determination”, are resisting this.
Source: Jyotsna Singh, BBC, 25 Sep 2009