Amid apathy, NGH villagers take self-help route to protect lake

Two hamlets mobilise funds to build approach road as well

From Saurav Bora

RESUBELPARA: About 350 households of two hamlets at Resubelpara in North Garo Hills have been mobilising resources to maintain a natural wonder and a potential tourist destination, over the past six years, and also practice pisciculture, despite the authorities looking the other way.
The Rangjokram Lake, located at Resu Dekachang close to the Meghalaya-Assam border, is about 27km from Dudhnoi in Goalpara district, became a sight to behold on Saturday morning when the residents of Dekachang and Chibagok villages indulged in community fishing, using nets of various shapes and sizes.
This of course is the reward for the self help route taken by them when help from the government never came.
What’s laudable is the fact that they had raised about Rs 2 lakh about six months back to build a half-kilometre approach road and make it motorable for people to come and see the marvel.
“Nothing has been done by the powers that be for maintenance of the lake. The then MP Conrad Sangma had even come to the site and assured the villagers to sanction some funds, but nothing has been received so far. So the elders including the headmen of the two villages took the onus of protecting the lake, with some residents even parting with their land to develop the natural wonder,” a senior resident of the area told The Shillong Times on Saturday wishing anonymity.
An amount of Rs 200, excluding a membership fee of Rs 50, is collected (at a certain interval) from each household for procuring fish seeds and when the fish mature, each family gets a limited amount for consumption. “As many as two quintals of various kinds of fish have been reared in the lake in two years, it is learnt,” he said.
The village authorities have knocked the doors of the government, including the tourism department for promotion and protection of the lake in the past, but to no avail. “It’s a success story for sure, one for other neglected areas of the district to take inspiration from,” he said.
On the mood of the villagers, given that elections are round the corner, he said, “Well, it is difficult to gauge how motivated they are to vote. But nevertheless, this is election time. It will be a close contest between NPP and Congress.”

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