A Mawlynnong, plastic is banned and the clean and flowery paths: welcome in the village “the cleanest in Asia ‘, a fragile island of calm in India, which is fighting to keep its tranquility and contrasts with the noise and dirt major Indian cities.
Early Sunday Morning, silence reigns in this village of 500 inhabitants nestled in a mountainous region of north-east of the country, inaccessible except on foot until 2003.
“We clean every day because our grandparents and our ancestors have taught us how to clean the village and the surrounding area, because it’s good for our health,” says Baniar Mawroh, a teenager sitting in front of the entrance of gleaming a small family home.
“Whenever we find garbage we throw in the trash, and at school from the age of three years, we are taught to keep the village clean,” she adds.
In India, most large cities are overrun by waste, without effective collection and sufficient education of the people in this area.
But Mawlynnong, it is the opposite: bamboo baskets are carefully hung at each intersection and the parking entrance of the village, a wide panel explicit regulations, including the requirement for visitors to win its waste plastics.
– Tourists and curious past ten years –
Until the construction of the access road to the village in 2003-04, no tourist coming to Mawlynnong. The village council decided to anticipate its attachment to the road network and prepare for the arrival of tourism.
“A reporter from Discover India magazine, came to visit, headlined its paper in speaking of” the cleanest town in India “and later the village” the cleanest in Asia ‘, “says Rishot Khongthohrem, a teacher of 51 years owner of a guesthouse.
“I did not expect that my village become so well known and I’m very proud,” he added.
Khongthohrem in 2005 became responsible for receiving visitors by the village council. He said he invested between 300,000 and 400,000 rupees (4200-5600 euros) of its funds to build the first guest house, beautify the village and hire three to four gardeners to flourish before handing over in 2007.
In this village inhabited by Khasis rare community where the name is transmitted by women, concern for cleanliness is not new and has its roots there are about 130 years in fear of an epidemic, says Khongthohrem.
“At that time, the plague was raging and there was no hospital,” said the teacher. “Christian missionaries told our ancestors:” You can protect yourself from the plague only if you maintain good hygiene, be it at home, with food on your land in the village, or for your body ” “.
– “More Privacy” –
The fame of the town has continued to spread for 10 years and Prime Minister Narendra Modi Mawlynnong cited as an example to push his initiative for a clean India, during a speech on the radio this fall.
“I was amazed to learn that there was such a village in the far northeast, which for so many years with such passion accomplishes this mission of cleanliness,” he has said.
Problem: the influx of tourists, which can reach 250 people per day in high season, with interest for the village to bring revenue also threatens its balance and serenity.
“We suffer from noise pollution and for this, the Village Council requested the authorities, so that a new car park was built, further away from the entrance to the village,” said Khongthohrem.
Deepak Laloo, who advised Mawlynnong in 2003 in its tourism development, believes that its people should limit the number of visitors.
“The social bond that united the village is in the process of disintegrating, which is unfortunate. There is more privacy. A woman is photographed while she washes her clothes,” laments Laloo, who in 2003 worked for the Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum, tourism promotion agency in the State of Meghalaya.
“They must learn to control the number of tourists,” he adds. “And to say no to a certain threshold.”