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Pariat dedicates reservoir to people of Mawlyngbna
By Our Special Correspondent
Mawsynram: For the people of Mawlyngbna it was a momentous occasion to have the Chief Secretary himself and his entourage of officers visit them to inaugurate a community initiated small multi-purpose reservoir on Saturday.
The total project cost of Rs 12.5 lakh which includes the reservoir, footpath and other supporting structures was completed with financial assistance from the Government.
This is one of many convergence projects visualised under the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme. The sturdy concrete road of about 500 metres long leading to the reservoir was constructed by the villagers themselves in a span of 15 days, through the MGNREGS.
The picturesque village of Mawlyngbna with roughly 340 households is about 75 km from Shillong and is located to the south of Mawsynram.
The people of Mawlyngbna are mostly marginal farmers who grow potato, garlic, sesamum, pumpkin, tomato and chilli etc. Amongst the non timber forest products are broom stick, bay leaves and black pepper. People also grow areca nut.
Mawlyngbha is one of the remaining green patches of Meghalaya. The sacred grove surrounding the village is so expansive it would take one full day to traverse. In the middle of the village is a natural spring from where potable water gushes from beneath the rocks. Gallons of fresh water just goes waste. Even in the dry season of March the water volume is significant.
Nearly the entire village practice the indigenous faith (Seng Khasi). It made one of the visitors to the village wonder whether this is the reason for the conservation practices.
The Integrated Wasteland Development Programme (IWDP) was implemented in the village by the Soil and Water Conservation Department since 2006-07 at a cost of Rs 30 lakh. In 2008 a small head dam was constructed from where water is taken to irrigate the farmlands which grow areca nut, betel leaf, black pepper, orange vegetables etc. After the irrigation project, crop production went up by 20-25 per cent.
Significantly the families who have benefited from scheme have formed a Water Users’ Committee and each family pays Rs 100 annually for maintenance of irrigation system. The villagers attributed this and other benevolent projects in their village to former Soil and Water Conservation Director, R Thabah.
The Chief Secretary also released fingerlings into the Reservoir. The extension of the head water dam and provision of additional pipeline of 1.80 km for irrigation would benefit an additional 120 families.
Speaking at the inaugural function a member of the Mawlyngbna Dorbar, Dansing Pdahkasiej, highlighted the problems of the village which he said was the oldest village in the area. He drew the attention of the Chief Secretary to the lack of health facilities.
“We have only a sub-centre which does not have medicines or doctors so we have to rush to the PHC at Mawsynram or to Shillong for major illnesses. Between march to October we are victims of malaria,” Pdahkasiej said adding that even the betel nut plantation is now suffering from some disease so the annual income of farmers has reduced from Rs 4-5 lakh a year to only Rs 45, 000. He later submitted a memorandum to the Chief Secretary.
Syiem of Mawsynram, Amor Sing Malngiang, who also attended the inaugural function said he hoped the project would not end with the inauguration but that Government would extend its help for other development projects in the area.
Chief Secretary, WMS Pariat lauded the people of Mawlyngbna for their co-operative spirit which he said made it easier for government to work with them. “We see government schemes misused by many villages. It is heartening to note that a good model of judicious use of funds for common good exists in Mawlyngbna village,” Pariat said.
He also informed the villagers that under the IBDP there are 9 missions which include horticulture, tourism, energy, fisheries etc which people of Mawlyngbna could take advantage of.
Others who spoke at the function included Addl Chief Secretary, Soil and Water Conservation, PBO Warjri, Principal Secretary C&RD and Fisheries, KN Kumar, Principal Secy Soil and Water Conservation, RM Mishra and East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner, Sanjay Goyal.
The entire village of Mawlyngbha both young and old were present at the function which was interspersed with cultural programmes. People were seen responding with spontaneous fervour to the visit of the Government heads.