Showing posts with label Meghalaya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Meghalaya. Show all posts
29 April 2021

Meghalaya COVID-19: No gatherings; institutes, pvt offices to remain shut from May 1 in Shillong, 2 more towns

During the 10-day period, all political, public and religious gatherings and sporting activities will be banned in Shillong, Jowai and Tura.

COVID 19 vaccination
COVID-19 vaccination (Representational photo)  |  Photo Credit: AP

Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Wednesday said the state government will impose containment measures, including banning of all political, public and religious gatherings, in the city and two towns - Jowai and Tura - for 10 days from May 1, amid a raging second wave of COVID-19.

All educational institutes and private offices will remain shut in these areas during the period.

"Containment measures will be effective from 5 am of May 1 till 5 am of May 10. These steps are being put in place to ensure the spread of COVID-19 is contained," the chief minister said on Twitter.
Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said the government has taken the decision after reviewing all the inputs sent by the district authorities.

"There will be no lockdown but containment measures will be enforced in places that have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases. Restrictions will be in place in Shillong city, Jowai and Tura," he said.

During the 10-day period, all political, public and religious gatherings and sporting activities will be banned in these areas, he said, adding that weddings and funerals have not been included in the containment measures.

Non-essential government institutions will be asked to allow its staffers to work from home, and all emergency services will be exempted from the restrictions, he said.

The district administrations and the transport offices have been directed to chalk out plans to reduce public vehicular movement, Tynsong said.

Meghalaya's COVID-19 tally rose to 16,271 as 147 more people tested positive for the disease on Tuesday, Health Services Director Aman War said.

The death toll reached 165 as four patients succumbed to the disease during the day, he added.

16 April 2021

Rare "Electric Mushrooms" Found In Meghalaya, So Bright That Locals Use It As Natural Torches

By Gursharan Bhalla
mushroom-5fb90275165e0 Michele P. Verderane.

The story behind the discovery

During the monsoon, a team of scientists from India and China embarked on a fungal foray in Assam. Over the course of two weeks, they were amazed by the vast diversity of fungi in the region: hundreds of species of fungi were spotted, some of which were new to science.

After hearing reports from locals of “electric mushrooms”, they headed to West Jaintia Hills District in Meghalaya. It was a drizzly night and a local person guided the team to a bamboo forest, which is part of a community forest, and asked them to switch off their torches.

A minute later, the group was awestruck by what they saw: in the midst of the darkness an eerie green glow emerged from dead bamboo sticks that were smothered in tiny mushrooms. The fungus emits its own light – a phenomenon known as bioluminescence.

mushrooms meghalaya File

One among the world's 97 glowing species

The new species — named Roridomyces phyllostachydis — was first sighted on a wet August night near a stream in Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong in East Khasi Hills district and later at Krang Shuri in West Jaintia Hills district. It is now one among the 97 known species of bioluminescent fungi in the world.

Interestingly, local residents used the glowing bamboo sticks as natural torches to navigate the forest at night. Steve Axford, a fungal photographer who accompanied the team, set up a small studio and took photos.

Upon closer observation, the team noticed that only the stipes (stalks) of the mushroom lit up and they suspected it could be a new species, said Gautam Baruah, who leads the Rural Futures initiative at the Balipara Foundation in Assam and is a co-author of the report. A detailed examination in the laboratory had confirmed their suspicion: it was a new species from the genus Roridomyces—and the first fungus in this genus to be discovered from India.

mushrooms glow meghalaya File

This mushroom was only found growing on dead bamboo (Phyllostachys mannii). Special elements could be present in the bamboo substrate that this fungus prefers, said Samantha Karunarathna, senior mycologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and lead author of the report She added that more research is needed to understand why they grow on this bamboo species.

Other glowing fungi in India

So far this mushroom is known from Krang Shuri, West Jayantia Hills District and Mawlynnong, East Khasi Hills District in Meghalaya. Only a few species of glowing fungi have been reported from India. Two have been reported from the Western Ghats, one in the Eastern Ghats, and one in the state of Kerala, among others. Glowing fungi have also been spotted in the forests of Maharashtra and Goa (part of the Western Ghats) but they have not been scientifically reported. Karunarathna believes the actual number of bioluminescent fungi in India should be higher.

glow-mushrooms File

A 2015 study showed that bioluminescence in Neonothopanus gardneri, a large, bright mushroom that grows at the base of young palm trees in Brazilian coconut forests, is under the control of a circadian clock. The activity of the enzymes involved in producing light peaks at night and this regulation implies that the lights serve a purpose.

15 March 2021

"Farmers Getting Poorer, Government Officials Richer": Meghalaya Governor

Satya Pal Malik said if the Centre gives legal guarantee of the minimum support price (MSP) for crops, farmers will relent.

'Farmers Getting Poorer, Government Officials Richer': Meghalaya Governor

The Meghalaya Governor claimed to have prevented the arrest of farmer leader Rakesh Tikait. (FILE)

Speaking at an event in his home district, Malik said if the Centre gives legal guarantee of the minimum support price (MSP) for crops, farmers will relent.

The Meghalaya Governor also claimed that he prevented the arrest of farmer leader Rakesh Tikait when he heard rumours about it.

Malik further said he had requested the prime minister and the home minister not to use force against farmers, and not to send them home from Delhi empty-handed.

"None of the laws are in favour of farmers. The country in which farmers and soldiers are not satisfied, that country cannot move ahead. That country cannot be saved. Hence, the Army and farmers should be kept satisfied," Malik said urging PM Modi and Home Minister Shah not to offend them.

Describing the condition of farmers as bad, Malik said, "They are getting poorer day by day while the salary of government officials and staff increases after every three years. Whatever is sown by a farmer is cheap and whatever he buys is expensive."

"They do not know how they are becoming poor. The 'satyanaash' (annihilation) of the farmers is taking place without their knowledge. When they go to sow (crops), there is some price, and when they go to reap it, the price decreases by almost ₹ 300," Malik said.

Taking a jibe at the arguments offered in favour of the new farm laws, Malik said, "A lot of noise was created that farmers can now sell (crops) at any place. This is a 15-year-old law. Despite this, when a farmer from Mathura goes to Palwal with wheat, there is a lathicharge on him. When a farmer from Sonipat comes to Narela, there is a lathicharge on him."

"There are many questions of farmers, which must be answered. Today, there is no law in favour of farmers. This has to be corrected. I want to assure you that in the matter of farmers, I will go to any extent to solve their problems," he said.

Apparently referring to Sikh farmers protesting against the laws, Malik said, "The Sikh community does not back down and forget things even after 300 years."

Listen to the latest songs, only on

"Indira Gandhi (ex-PM) had got the 'Mahamrityunjay Mantra Jaap' done for a month after the Operation Blue Star. Arun Nehru told me that when he asked her that you do not believe is such rituals, then why are you performing these, she said you don't know, I have damaged their 'Akal Takht'. They will not spare me."

11 March 2021

Meghalaya Govt Denies Harassment of Bengali Citizens

Conrad Sangma

Conrad Sangma

Meghalaya has denied harassment of Bengali citizens in the state, said the Ministry of Home Affairs in Lok Sabha.

This statement comes after the Ministry of Home Affairs said some inputs have been received alleging harassment of non-tribals in some of the northeastern states by tribal pressure groups in Lok Sabha.

23 January 2021

Six miners killed in Meghalaya

Five of the victims were from Assam, four from Karimganj and one from Cachar district

One of the deceased is yet to be identified. The bodies were recovered on Friday

By Umanand Jaiswal

Guwahati 23, 2021: Six miners were killed while working in a remote coalmine in Meghalaya on Thursday evening after a machine malfunctioned, according to a statement issued by the police.

Five of the victims were from Assam, four from Karimganj and one from Cachar district. One of the deceased is yet to be identified. The bodies were recovered on Friday.

The mine is located in East Jaintia Hills district’s Sorkari Dienshalu area, over 12km from the district headquarters.

The police said prima facie it seems that a “machine at the mining area had malfunctioned, which may have unfortunately led to the untimely demise of the six persons”. The bodies have been sent for post-mortem likely to be completed by Saturday afternoon.

When asked whether the mine was an active or an abandoned one, an official said that there were no traces of coal at the site.

Another official said they could have been involved in coal or stone mining.

The last major mine mishap in the district had claimed the lives of 15 miners in 2018.
16 July 2015

Charge framing hearing against Salahuddin July 22

A Shillong court in the Meghalaya state of India has fixed July 22 for hearing on charge framing against BNP leader Salahuddin Ahmed in a case filed for trespass.

Judicial Magistrate KML Nong Bri set the date in presence of lawyers from both sides today, reports a correspondent from Kolkata.

Talking to The Daily Star over telephone, public prosecutor IC Jhan told that SP Mohonto, lawyer of Salahuddin, was present while the date was announced. The defence counsel did not raise any objection in this regard, Jhan added.

Contacted, a lawyer of Shillong said if Salahuddin admits his fault on July 22, the court will then fix a date for delivering its verdict. Otherwise, the trial will begin, he added.

Indian police arrested BNP leader Salahuddin Ahmed on May 12 in Shillong district of Meghalaya on charge of entering the country without travel documents. The BNP joint secretary general was arrested from Golf Link locality of Shillong.

After the arrest, Salahuddin was initially sent to MIMHANS mental hospital in Shillong and was later shifted to Shillong Civil Hospital.

Later he was admitted to Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Science after Salahuddin’s wife Hasina Ahmed demanded better treatment for her husband.

Within 23 days of the arrest, Shillong Sub-Inspector M Lamhare submitted the charge sheet accusing Salahuddin of trespassing only.

Two days later, Salahuddin secured conditional bail and started living at a rented house at Police Bazar in Shillong.
29 April 2015

Swiss Duo Help Discover Ultimate Meghalaya Bat Caves

By Anand Chandrasekhar

Meghalaya's unexplored caves hold great promise for cavers and biologists alike (Thomas Arbenz)
Meghalaya's unexplored caves hold great promise for cavers and biologists alike
(Thomas Arbenz)

A unique collaboration between cave explorers and biologists has helped discover rare bats in northeastern India. Now, they’re working with local tribes, researchers and officials to secure the future of these flying mammals.

Swiss caving enthusiast Thomas Arbenz is hooked to the thrill of exploration. For the 61-year-old adventurer, caves remain one of the few places on earth where no humans have set foot before.
“It is such a good feeling to step into the unknown,” Arbenz told “You feel like an explorer from the old days.”

It is this longing to discover new caves that led him to a remote part of India - more specifically to the state of Meghalaya in north-east India which has the reputation for being the wettest place on earth. He is a co-leader of a group of international group of speleologists who systematically explore and map Meghalaya’s intricate network of caves. They also contribute to science by helping biologists discover rare bat species that live in these unexplored caves.

Bats galore

In 2011, fellow Swiss Manuel Ruedi, a biologist at the Geneva Natural History Museum, accompanied Arbenz on the Meghalaya expedition after hearing that the cavers routinely come across bats.

“Cavers are often the first people entering many of those caves,” he told “So, the likelihood of finding exciting new biological material is there.”

Ruedi managed to catch some of these bats by placing special nets at the mouth of the grotto. It turned out that he had stumbled upon two new species of insect-eating Tube-nosed bats.  

“When you catch a bat that seems a bit different from the other ones, you don't immediately realise it’s a new species,” he says, adding that differences can be so subtle that it takes a lot of work to confirm if it really is a previously undiscovered kind of bat.

After a year of cross-checking with specimens in historical collections and examining scientific literature, he was able to prove that he had indeed discovered two new species. He even named one of the bats after the Jaintia people of Meghalaya as a “thank you” gesture to the locals who allowed the team to explore their forests and hosted them.

But the caves of Meghalaya had more surprises in store for Ruedi. In 2014 he also discovered a new colony of the extremely rare Wroughton’s Free-tailed bat, the second such population known to science.

“We were very excited to find a bat colony 2400 km away from the only other known colony of the species,” says Ruedi.

Meghalaya native and bat researcher Adora Thabah was also present during the discovery. In fact, she had captured a single individual in 2002 during her field research for her PhD.

“It was a one-off catch and not finding another colony was very frustrating,” she told “At last I was able to solve the mystery and there is now hope for the species in India.”
She believes that the bats would never have been found without help from the caving expedition.

“There are not many bat researchers in India and it would have been impossible for me to find them by myself,” she says.

Uncertain future

Bats are regularly hunted and eaten by the locals. To keep the rare bats off the menu, the biologists and cavers embarked on an awareness programme to convince people about the importance of protecting them and the caves they live in.

“The main problem is that the people don’t understand the importance of bats in the ecosystem,” says Thabah. “It was explained to them that the bats eat their agricultural pests and pollinate their fruits, and that they were actually killing and eating a useful animal.”

However, it is not enough to protect the bat caves alone. The bats forage for insects as far as tens of kilometres from the cave. That is why it is equally important to preserve the forest habitat around the caves. However, deforestation for agriculture as well as for coal and limestone mining has taken a heavy toll on prime bat habitat in recent years.

“This is beyond what I can handle,” admits Ruedi. Instead, he has tried to get the state forest department officials invested in protecting the bat habitats by informing them of his discoveries and showing them where the important bat caves are.

Ruedi has also trained two local researchers who will continue the bat research and awareness programme to supplement Thabah’s efforts. This should at least ensure that the forest department officials are supplied with the information necessary for protecting critical bat habitats in Meghalaya.
“I was sort of a trigger for bat studies in eastern Meghalaya but now local researchers are taking the lead,” says Ruedi. “This is a great long-term outcome for the bats.”

Meghalaya – a caver’s paradise 

The tiny Indian state of Meghalaya - it is just over half the size of Switzerland - came to the attention of the international caving community two decades ago. In 1992, a group of four European cavers began exploring the caves in the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo hills and soon realised the potential of the region to become a global caving hotspot.

Since then, the small group has evolved into an annual caving expedition comprising around 30 cavers from all over the world and calls itself the Caving in the abode of the clouds project. So far, they’ve identified 1,300 caves, explored 825 of them, and surveyed in excess of 370 kilometres underground.

Most of the caves in Meghalaya are inaccessible to people who don't know anything about caving. To explore even easy caves you need to have basic equipment like head torches, helmets, protective suit and boots. More technical caves require climbing gear like ropes, carabiners and rope ladders. To enter river caves you also need neoprene suits, wellington boots and life jackets.

Besides technical gear, caving expertise and experience are a prerequisite for any kind of cave exploration. However, there are two or three “show caves” in Meghalaya that tour operators take visitors to see.

22 April 2015

Beef Party, Bandh To Greet BJP President Amit Shah in Meghalaya

Shillong, Apr 22 : A beef party and a bandh will greet BJP president Amit Shah during his maiden visit to Meghalaya on Wednesday.

The Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR), a pressure group, is organising the 'beef party' in which it will discuss attack by Sangh Parivar outfits on democratic and secular ideals, near the BJP office in the state capital.

TUR conveners Angela Ryngad and Tarun said the beef party is being held to oppose BJP for their ideals which seeks to uproot the ideals that unite the country.

The TUR asked its members to bring to the party ideas, banners, posters and beef burgers.

"The beef party is not just eating beef burgers or sharing beef soups but a platform where we will have songs, ideas, banners, posters against the party, its ideals and its leader Amit Shah," they said.

Meanwhile security has been tightened in the city in the wake of a 12-hour bandh called by the proscribed militant outfit, the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), in protest against alleged atrocities perpetrated by the Sangh Parivar on minorities.

East Khasi Hills district SP M Kharkrang said additional security personnel will be deployed in and around sensitive areas during Shah's visit.

The outfit, in a release, said the BJP-led NDA government's plan to ban cow slaughter will also snatch employment from thousands of families in the Hynniewtrep (Khasi and Jaintia Hills region).

Shah, who visited Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur during his week-long tour, is scheduled to arrive in Shillong from Sikkim on Wednesday for a day-long visit where he will meet regional political party leaders, church leaders and BJP workers.
13 March 2015

Centre open to 24×7 Channel for Meghalaya

Shillong, Mar 13 : The Centre is open to the idea of having a dedicated 24×7 channel for Meghalaya, said Bimal Julka, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, on Thursday.

Speaking to media persons on the sidelines of the Indian Panorama Festival which got underway here on Thursday, Julka said that the Standing Committee on Finance is empowered to take a final call on the matter.

He further said that the Ministry would deliberate on the opinion of the viewers and based on the outcome of the study and necessary requirements a decision would be taken.

Stating that the Ministry was committed to promote regional cinema, the bureaucrat said that the Ministry has been trying to host a number of events with special focus on the North East.

According to Julka, the Ministry has proposed a separate section for Meghalaya in the International Film Festival in Goa since Meghalaya provides a number of opportunities to film makers with its beautiful locations that have the potential to attract a lot of film makers.

Asked about the expansion plans of the Ministry, he said that the print media was growing at 9 per cent whereas the broadcasting media was growing at a rate of 12-14 per cent per annum. In addition to more than 800 channels that are up and running, around 250 more would be coming soon, Julka said, adding that it was the prerogative of the state government on how they wanted to utilize the opportunity.

Earlier in the day, Julka met officials of All India Radio, Shillong and advised them to extend AIR’s reach to benefit the rural masses in the country.

Julka said AIR, as a public broadcaster, will not lack behind in ensuring that news and other programmes of the government are heard by the poorest of the poor.

He also said despite the fiscal deficit, the government was undertaking up gradation of technology in AIR with digitalized transmission.

He also said that private TV channels have progressed in terms of providing entertainment, but people still tune in to Doordarshan and AIR for authentic news.
14 January 2015

Indo-Bangla Cell Phine Jam Plan

A mobile tower in a village on the Indo-Bangla border
Shillong, Jan 14 : India and Bangladesh today agreed to approach telecom operators in their countries for a system to jam mobile phone signals on either side of the border to curb trans-boundary crimes.

Officials of the border districts in Bangladesh and Meghalaya took the decision on the concluding day of the first two-day bilateral conference of deputy commissioners/district magistrates of both countries here.

Security forces manning the international border are reportedly facing difficulties in curbing criminal activities owing to the active network of Bangladesh mobile service providers along the boundary.

District officials from both countries today agreed they would take up the matter with the higher authorities to ask telecom operators to set up jammers along the border to block mobile signals.
"The ability of miscreants and militants to communicate with their accomplices on the other side of the border by using Bangladesh SIM cards is a big concern for India," East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Sanjay Goyal told reporters here.
India's concern assumes significance in wake of the spread of terror modules in the northeastern states and West Bengal, which share a long border with Bangladesh.
The countries share a 4,096km-long international border, the fifth-longest land border in the world, which includes 262km in Assam, 856km in Tripura, 18km in Mizoram, 443km in Meghalaya and 2,217km in Bengal.
Criminals are allegedly using Bangladesh SIM cards from areas close to the border to get in touch with their counterparts in the neighbouring country to avoid coming under the radar of Indian agencies that track cross-border calls.
Recently, NIA sleuths probing the Burdwan blast found out that Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) operatives in Bengal used to go near the border and use Bangladesh SIM cards to make international calls. By doing so, they avoided routing the calls through networks of Indian service providers. By making calls near the border, they made use of signals from a tower in Bangladesh.
"We have requested the deputy commissioners of the Bangladesh districts bordering the districts in Meghalaya to take up this issue with their respective telecom operators to put in place a technology which can restrict the coverage of mobile network along the international borders," Goyal said.
He said both sides have mutually agreed to find a solution to the problem so that such technological loophole does not provide an advantage to miscreants or militants along the border.
Indian security agencies admitted the miscreants could easily access SIM cards of Bangladesh companies like Grameen Phone along the border. Allegedly, a number of Bangladeshi nationals who managed to enter Indian side could carry out illegal activities by using SIM cards made in the neighbouring country.
Indian exporters who deal with Bangladesh allegedly use Grameen Phone SIM cards to keep in touch with Bangladeshi importers when they do not get access from their local mobile phones. Indian telecom officials said owing to the geographical proximity, Bangladeshi cell phone networks could be accessed from areas in India that are close to the border by using SIM cards made in the neighbouring country.
The Union telecom ministry had earlier entrusted the department to take steps to extend cellular services to all villages along the Indo-Bangla border so that people on the India side could connect with their relatives in Bangladesh. The department said the connection package includes laying of fibre optics and supplementing the services with optical rings and use of power grid networks and satellite media.
Northeast MPs had also raised concern over the availability of mobile signals from Bangladesh in absence of Indian telecom service providers along the border. The MPs had pointed out that the frequent use of Bangladesh service providers by militant groups inside India, which poses a major security threat.
In the past, Indian security forces had seized a number of Grameen Phone SIM cards from arrested militants.
22 October 2014

Welcome to Mawsynram, the Wettest place on Earth

Winchester Lyngkhoi carries fresh meat up to his butcher's stall on market day in Mawsynr
Winchester Lyngkhoi carries fresh meat up to his butcher's stall on market day in Mawsynram. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
YOU might need a bigger umbrella — in fact, you might need a stash of them.

And forget sunglasses because you’ll be lucky to see many rays in the wettest place on Earth. Perched atop a ridge in the Khasi Hills of India’s north east, the village of Mawsynram is subject to the highest average rainfall on the planet.
Rainwater surges through Mawsynram Village during a heavy downpour. Picture: Amos Chappel
Rainwater surges through Mawsynram Village during a heavy downpour. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
In the two peak monsoon months of June and July Mawsynram is hit with an average 275 inch
In the two peak monsoon months of June and July Mawsynram is hit with an average 275 inches of rain. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
Mawsynram is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya state in north-eastern India, a region renowned for being constantly wet.
The village receives a whopping 467 inches of rain per year thanks to summer air currents sweeping over the floodplains of Bangladesh and gathering moisture as they move north.
Perched atop a ridge in the Khasi Hills of India's north east, the village of Mawsynram i
Perched atop a ridge in the Khasi Hills of India's north east, the village of Mawsynram is subject to the highest average rainfall on the planet. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
Mawsynram receives constant rain. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
Mawsynram receives constant rain. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
When the resulting clouds hit the steep hills of Meghalaya they are “squeezed” through the narrowed gap in the atmosphere and are compressed to the point where they can no longer hold their moisture.
The end result is the near-constant rain the village is famous for.
Labourers wearing traditional 'knup' umbrellas walk into Mawsynram. Picture: Amos Chappel
Labourers wearing traditional 'knup' umbrellas walk into Mawsynram. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
A farmer wearing a traditional 'knup' umbrella doesn't let the rain get in the way as he
A farmer wearing a traditional 'knup' umbrella doesn't let the rain get in the way as he works near Mawsynram. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
Further afield, deep in the rainforests of the state of Meghalaya lie some of the most extraordinary pieces of civil engineering in the world.
Here, in the depths of the forest, bridges aren’t built — they’re grown.
A fisherman walks under an ancient tree root bridge at Mawlynnong village. Picture: Amos
A fisherman walks under an ancient tree root bridge at Mawlynnong village. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
Examples of the thin aerial rubber tree roots used by locals to creates bridges and ladde
Examples of the thin aerial rubber tree roots used by locals to creates bridges and ladders in and around Mawsynram, which is the wettest place in the world. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
Trailing vines and mosses, the living trees bridges of Cherrapunji are breathtaking in their majesty.
Ancient tree vines and roots stretch across rivers and streams, creating a solid latticework structure that appears too fantastical to be real.

A local man on the “double decker” tree root bridge in Nongriat Village, deep in the rain
A local man on the “double decker” tree root bridge in Nongriat Village, deep in the rainforests of the Indian state of Meghalaya. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
Local woman Mary Synrem holds a young Ficus Elastica rubber tree root, the material used

Local woman Mary Synrem holds a young Ficus Elastica rubber tree root, the material used to construct the tree root bridges in Cherrapunji, Meghalaya, India. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
The Cherrapunji region is considered to be one of the wettest places on the planet and this is the reason behind the unusual bridges.

With Cherrapunji receiving around 15 metres of rain per year, a normal wooden bridge would quickly rot.

A living tree root bridge deep in jungle near Nongriat Village, near Meghalaya, India. Pi
A living tree root bridge deep in jungle near Nongriat Village, near Meghalaya, India. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
Deep in the rainforests of the Indian state of Meghalaya lie some of the most extraordina
Deep in the rainforests of the Indian state of Meghalaya lie some of the most extraordinary pieces of civil engineering in the world. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
This is why, 500 years ago, locals began to guide roots and vines from the native Ficus Elastica rubber tree across rivers using hollow bamboo until they became rooted on the opposite side, eventually creating a bridge.

Tourists visiting Mawsynram will definitely need one of these, in fact maybe a few. Pictu
Tourists visiting Mawsynram will definitely need one of these, in fact maybe a few. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
But locals don’t let the rain get in the way of a good celebration or some hard work.

Farmers especially have developed ways to keep the rain at bay.

The sign on the weather station on the outskirts of Mawsynram, India, says it all. Pictur
The sign on the weather station on the outskirts of Mawsynram, India, says it all. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
Made from bamboo and banana leaf, they wear knups, which are favoured for enabling both hands to be kept free for work and for being able to stand up to the high winds which come with the rainstorms in Mawsynram.

Goats shelter in a bus stop during nother drizzly afternoon in Mawsynram. Picture: Amos C
Goats shelter in a bus stop during nother drizzly afternoon in Mawsynram. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
And locals don’t let the pouring rain get in the way of a good festival either with hundreds taking part in a traditional Khasi festival in Mawsynram.

Mawsynram Village, just don't expect a lot of sunshine. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/austra
Mawsynram Village, just don't expect a lot of sunshine. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
The festival has been held since 1899 when 16 Khasi youths formed the Seng Khasi movement to save the Khasi culture from being diluted by the rapid spread of Christianity.

A Khasi boy has his turban tightly twisted into place by his grandfather before an annual
A Khasi boy has his turban tightly twisted into place by his grandfather before an annual Khasi festival. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
People take part in a traditional Khasi festival in Mawsynram, which is the wettest place
People take part in a traditional Khasi festival in Mawsynram, which is the wettest place in the world. Picture: Amos Chappele/Rex/australscope
16 October 2014

The Long Road To Runway

By Madhumita Srinivasan

Meghalaya-based Daniel Syiem on showing at the London Fashion Week and the increasing awareness about brands in the North East.

“It’s all about the designers and their collection at the London Fashion Week, while in India the focus is on the celebs — who is attending it, and who is walking for whom,” rues upcoming fashion designer Daniel Syiem, but with the genuine hope that the Indian fashion industry will change for the better.
Daniel would know because he showcased his collection ‘Amaranthine’ at the London Fashion Week S/S 2015 last month which was received with much appreciation and interest. His collection was inspired by the natural beauty and resources of his home state — Meghalaya. It featured largely western pieces — from crop shirts and jump suits to dresses and pants — made out of the hand-spun, organic fabric Ryndia, dyed in natural colours like turmeric, violet, ochre, olive, indigo, amaranth and ivory.  “The response was overwhelming,” says Daniel. “They understood what I was trying to portray — all the little details. I was really happy!” Through his collection, Daniel wanted to showcase the rich but dying tradition of hand-woven fabric from his state and other regions in the North-East for which he works closely with the artisans through his fashion label Daniel Syiem’s Ethnic Fashion House established in 2011 along with his partner Janessaline M Pyngrope.
 “My grandfather and father are social activists who work for the people. So in my own way I wanted to do something for my people too,” explains Daniel who started off with a small boutique in Shillong.
 The people of North-East are generally known for being fashionable, but the concept of wearing labels and designer brands is quite new. “It took time for people to understand what I was doing because they used to treat me like some high-end tailor. But over the years things have changed. And there is a lot of talent out there that is still untapped.”  Daniel is currently working on establishing his base and understanding the fabric because it can be quite challenging working with it especially with its limited colour palette. “We cannot do this on our own. We are looking at collaborating with different experts like textile designers. We have a few on board who are trying to see how different prints and dyes can be incorporated and how to revive age-old dyeing methods. This is where my passion lies,” says Daniel.
 Currently, Daniel is busy responding to enquires he received from sellers in Europe after his show and preparing for the London Fashion Week’s Autumn/Winter to which he has been invited again. “The material I work with is more suited to the climatic conditions in Europe, so we would like to tap into the European markets. The response we have been receiving here in India has been positive too.

We have managed to generate some buzz and people are noticing us.” The fashion industry sat up to take notice of this designer who marries Nature with couture after his debut at the Lakme Fashion Week last year.
24 September 2014

Landslide on Guwahati-Shillong Highway

A man pulls his rickshaw through the flood water in Anil Nagar area of Guwahati on Tuesday. PTIGuwahati, Sep 24 : More than 72 hours of incessant rainfall has caused huge floods in Assam and Meghalaya with several villages in Goalpara, Dhubri, Lakhimpur and Kamrup (Rural) district, besides major areas of Guwahati city, inundated by water on Tuesday.

The Army, IAF, BSF and NDRF are assisting the district administration in rescue operations. IAF swung into action with its helicopters pressed into service and began rescue and relief operations in flood-hit Goalpara district. More than 500 people in the district are suspected to be still missing.

A child was killed in a landslide in Dhubri district’s Hatsingimari, while one person was electrocuted in Guwahati where a body floating on river Bharalu was also recovered, state government officials said.

The Kaziranga National Park and the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary were also flooded forcing hapless animals to move to highlands to protect themselves.  The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been pressed into service.

In Goalpara district, the army and SDRF were assisting the district administration in rescuing the over 50,000 people marooned in 100 villages due to the deluge in Krishnai, Dudhnoi and Bolbola areas, district Deputy Commissioner (DC) Preetam Saikia said.

The National Highway 37 was water logged with tin-roofed and thatched houses in many areas in Goalpara district submerged, converting huge tracts of human habitation and farmland with standing crops into a vast body of water, Saikia said.

Heavy rains in Goalpara coupled with that in neighbouring Garo hills of Meghalaya was causing the deluge in the district, the DC said.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi personally monitored the situation and directed the various agencies to provide relief assistance to the affected people.

In Lakhimpur district, heavy downpour for the last two days along Arunachal Pradesh, had forced the waters of the swollen Ranganadi river to rush through a breached dyke at Kharkati, district officials said. A dyke that had breached at Borsola along with the Kharkati bund on August 14 last also caused waters from Singara river to flood the area, they said.

The flood waters have marooned over 30,000 people in 30 villages in the Kharkati and Borsola area, they added. The situation turned worse in Majuli, where several villages have been submerged since Sunday.
23 September 2014

Indefinite Strike in Meghalaya From Tuesday Against NGT’s Coal Mining Ban

The ban was issued following a complaint by the All Dimasa Students’ Union of the adjoining Dima Hasao district of Assam, which contended that rat-hole mining in Meghalaya had polluted the Kopili river and turned its water poisonous.
The ban was issued following a complaint by the All Dimasa Students’ Union of the adjoining Dima Hasao district of Assam, which contended that rat-hole mining in Meghalaya had polluted the Kopili river.

By Samudra Gupta Kashyap

Guwahati, Sep 23 : Four months after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered a ban on ‘rat-hole’ coal mining in Meghalaya, an organization called Movement for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Livelihood-Meghalaya (MIPRL) has called for an indefinite economic strike from Tuesday demanding withdrawal of that order.

The NGT had on April 17 issued orders to the state government to immediately stop rat-hole and other illegal coal mining, as also transportation of coal extracted through such methods. The ban was issued following a complaint by the All Dimasa Students’ Union of the adjoining Dima Hasao district of Assam, which contended that rat-hole mining in Meghalaya had polluted the Kopili river and turned its water poisonous.

While this ban has been opposed by various organizations including political parties on the ground that it had affected livelihood of thousands of people out of job, the MIPRL also complained against lack of response from the Meghalaya government to this major economic issue.

MIPRL spokesman Erwin K Syiem Sutnga said in Shillong that while said that the group had submitted a list of ten issues to the Meghalaya chief minister with a 10-day deadline, there was no response from him. “The state government even failed to make any proper presentation during the NGT’s hearing on September 16 despite demand by so many organizations to it to pray for relaxation of the guidelines,” he said.

The MIPRL has also demanded implementation of Para 12 A Sub Para (b) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India to protect the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Peoples’ inalienable and absolute rights over tribal land. Its other demands included modification of all central laws applied to the state of Meghalaya done without recourse to the mandatory provisions of Para 12 A Sub Para (b) and (d).

“The government of Meghalaya continues to play with the lives and survival of thousands of people who have bee rendered jobless. We had no option left but to call an economic strike,” Sutnga said.
The MIPRL has asked all transporters of goods in and outside Meghalaya, all petroleum product tankers, limestone exporters and traders, all passenger transporters, carriers, transporters of timber, cement, clinker and coal, among others, to support the economic strike call. The strike will however not affect private and small commercial vehicles within Meghalaya, Sutnga said. It would also not affect schools, colleges, offices, markets, he added.

Meanwhile, an expert committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has permitted transportation of coal already extracted before issue of the ban order, but under strict 21-point environmental guidelines in six districts of Meghalaya. The MIPRL however is not agreeable to it.
Accordingly, a maximum of 9 metric tones of coal will be allowed to be transported by each 2-axle truck. The transporter will have to ensure that the truck is loaded to permissible load of 9 MT or less, the committee had said on September 1. Traffic will be regulated by the state police and a speed limit of 40 kmph should be enforced for these trucks, it said.

To prevent over assessment of extracted coal, the committee has also maintained that all coal owners should maintain registers of declared quantity, assessed quantity, date wise sale, date wise loading and date wise dispatch of coal which will be subjected to the verification of the district administration.
19 September 2014

'Garoland Demand To Continue Even After Peace Accord'

Shillong, Sep 19 : A rebel group in Meghalaya that would next week sign a peace accord with the central government Thursday said it would continue with its original demand for a separate Garoland state.

"We will continue with our demand for the creation of a separate Garoland state (to be carved out of Meghalaya) politically and through non-violence after signing the peace accord with the central and Meghalaya governments," Arist Sengsrang Sangma, spokesman of the A'chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC), told IANS.

The Centre Wednesday announced the signing of the peace accord with two rebel outfits - ANVC and its breakaway group ANVC-B - operating in the five districts of Garo Hills in Meghalaya.

The accord will be signed Sep 24 in New Delhi after a decade of peace negotiations.

"This issue (Garoland) is very much alive as 80 percent of Garo people want a state of their own. Political parties, civil society groups and armed outfit Garo National Liberation Army are demanding the same," Sangma said.

"We will continue to fight for a separate state as central government officials have told us that there is no harm in continuing with our original demand for a separate state but that should be fought through non-violence," he said.
11 September 2014

First Khasi And Mishmi Books For Children

By Kanika Sharma

Make most of two unique re-tellings of folktales from the North-East — the first children’s books in the languages of Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya

Chennai-based children’s publishing house Tulika Books has introduced two picture books on International Literacy Day (September 8) — Race of the Rivers and Hambreelmai’s Loom. Khasi writer Esther Syiem has retold the folktale of Ka lew and Ka Ngot, two friends who love to play on the hilltops of Meghalaya. Syiem, an English literature lecturer and author is known for her study of folk literature.

Hambreelmai’s LoomHambreelmai’s Loom, retold by Mamang Dai, pictures by Kalyani Ganpathy, Tulika Books, Rs 150. Available at leading bookstores. 

Hambreelmai’s Loom, on the other hand, has been narrated by Mamang Dai echoing the beautiful sounds of the Mishmi language from Arunachal Pradesh. The story’s protagonist is Hambreelmai who is the first weaver taught by the goddess Matai. Mamang Dai is a Padma Shri poet and novelist, who is currently a part of the Arunachal Pradesh Service Commission.

Race of the Rivers
Race of the Rivers, retold by Esther Syiem, pictures by Benedict Hynniewta, Tulika Books, Rs 150. Available at leading bookstores. 

Both books have been meticulously illustrated by Benedict Hynniewta (for Race of the Rivers) and Kalyani Ganapathy (for Hambreelmai’s Loom).

As is Tulika Books’ norm, the two picture books have been published in nine languages. However, given the special status of these two books, they are also being published in their local languages making them the first Khasi book for children and first Mishmi book ever. Explore the incredulity of the North-East exposing your child to enigmatic tales for life by grabbing these books now.
29 August 2014

Meghalaya To Introduce Customer Care Centre

Shillong, Aug 29 : Meghalaya government today pledged to introduce a customer care centre (CCC) to look into the various grievances faced by the consumers pertaining to electricity billing or any other discrepancies faced by the people.

"It was decided that the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) would soon introduce the customer care centre to attend the grievances and complaints by the consumers," UDP working President Paul Lyngdoh told reporters here after meeting Power Minister Clement Marak.

Lyngdoh led a delegation of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) formed by the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) along with headmen of different localities in Shillong and its adjoining areas.

The MeECL has also agreed to introduce online billing and payments within this year besides extension of public grievances cell and complaint cell to different parts of the city, he said.

The MeECL had recently introduced spot billing system where a lot of anomalies were detected by the consumers.

Some of the complaints pertained to the number of days billed. There were billings between 40 - 50 to even 64 days period causing hardship and burden to the common man, Lyngdoh said.
22 August 2014

Learning From Meghalaya Village To Keep India Clean

Mawlynnong (Meghalaya), Aug 22 : If Indians want to make their country a clean and healthy place, then they should learn from the Khasi tribesmen of Meghalaya's Mawlynnong village, says tourist Michael Dough.

"I thought I was in another countryside in a different continent and not in India," Dough said about the village, referred to as "God's own garden" and also cited as "Asia's cleanest village".

Like the visitor from Canada, Indian tourist Meenakshi Datta strongly felt that all Indians should visit Mawlynnong village and learn the habit of keeping the surroundings clean.

"On Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken much about making India a clean and healthy place. I strongly feel that the prime minister should take his team to this remote village and learn something about cleanliness," Datta said.

Children in the village are taught about hygiene in school at an early age and about how to keep their surroundings clean and green.

Mawlynnong, which means "a cluster of stones" in the local Khasi dialect, is located on the southern slopes of East Khasi Hills. It is about 90 kilometres from Meghalaya capital Shillong and four km from the Bangladesh border.

Mawlynnong presents itself as a pretty queen amongst a cluster of rural areas located on a critical micro-watershed of the Wah Khuri (Khuri river). Unlike other tribal villages, where one is greeted with barking dogs and strange looks, Mawlynnong warmly receives tourists with open arms. Villagers are polite and friendly.

The Khasi tribesmen residing in the southern slopes of Khasi Hills are locally known as War people and are experts in horticulture. Villagers traditionally raised betel vines, arecanut, oranges and other horticultural crops and spices on the foothills and traded these products across the plains in erstwhile Eastern Bengal and East Pakistan, at present Bangladesh.

Unfortunately, their traditional market links got snapped after India's partition in 1947, causing great economic hardship to the people of the bordering villages. Nonetheless, they still maintain the same kind of plantation activities on the foothills.

Most of the houses are built with traditional material like stone, tin, bamboo and wood. There are a few cemented houses too. Each house is decorated with exotic and ornamental plants, while the courtyards are covered with a green carpet of grass.

The footpaths and lanes within the village have been carefully built with stones and boulders. In each walkway, there are cone-shaped bamboo dustbins. Nobody is allowed to litter any plastic or any waste material on the footpath or in the village premises.

It looks so clean that one would hesitate to throw anything on the ground - and even if there is some litter, it would be cleaned up in no time.

Mawlynnong village was discovered by missionaries of the Anglican church who came in contact with the village to spread the gospel way back in 1902. They later built a church there with the help of the highly-skilled local masons.

The natural beauty and simplicity of the local folk attracted foreign tourists well before the domestic and city visitors began to flow in. The foreigners marvelled at the simple, self-sustained village with its rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. The villagers too were inspired by the adulation of the visitors. They realised that if they could conserve the forest and biodiversity of the area, it could fetch them not only praise but also income from the tourist inflow.

The Dorbar Shnong (village council) makes sure the tourists are comfortable and safe there. There is a tourism management committee in the village that supervises the itinerary of the tourists and their comfort that includes providing tourist guides, accommodation and food.

"The Dorbar Shnong imposed a fine for anybody found to be throwing litter around or plucking flowers. I am happy that tourists visiting Mawlynnong follow the rules but you will still find some domestic tourists lacking respect," village headman Thomlin Khongthohrem told IANS.

"We have learnt about cleanliness from our childhood and, therefore, I am sure the people of Mawlynnong will continue to keep this benchmark alive," he added.

"I am sure people who have visited us will go back home and speak about our clean village, but what is important for them is to follow us in maintaining their surroundings and homes clean since cleanliness begins at home," Khongthohrem said.

In fact, the adjoining villages of Mawlynnong - Riwai and Nohweta - too have become litter-conscious and put up conical waste baskets on the pavement.

Riwai village has also managed to wean some tourists to view its Live Roots Bridge, a natural bridge across a stream made of the inter-twining roots of two trees.

"It's not only cleanliness and good mannered villagers that attract visitors to Mawlynnong," says Dipak D. Laloo, a passionate nature lover and tourism promoter.

"We are trying to educate and encourage the villagers about the importance of preservation and protection of the fragile ecology, natural features and socio-cultural traditions of the village, living in harmony with nature. This is not just for the promotion of tourism alone, but for the survival of the people inhabiting the area," Laloo said.

(Raymond Kharmujai can be contacted at rrkharmujai@gmail.comO)

Foreigners Online Tracking System Launched in Meghalaya

Shillong, Aug 22 : Meghalaya police chief Peter J P Hanaman today launched an online system tracking inbound and outbound foreigners entering the state, an official said.

The online system on 'Immigration, Visa, Foreigner’s and Tracking(IVFRT)' System under the National e-Governance Plan(NeGP) was launched which aims at enhancing the experience of in-bound and out-bound foreigners will be operated from the

Foreigner’s Registration Office, from the SP’s Office, Shillong under the guidance of Bureau of Immigration(BOI), they said.

The system also handles on-line visa application system, immigration Control System Software(Passenger Checking, look out Circular, loss of Passport, Flight management).

It also functions as the Central module for look out Circular regarding opening, deletion or modification of Look Out Circular) besides an on-line filling of 'C' Forms (by Hotels, Guest Houses, Hospitals and Dharamshala Owner).

It also keep tracks of foreign students studying in Indian Institutes.
21 August 2014

Centre Directs Meghalaya to ban all forms of Smokeless Tobacco

Shillong, Aug 21 : The Centre has directed Meghalaya and two other states in the North East region to impose ban on all forms of processed/flavoured smokeless tobacco to save people from oral cancer, an official said today.

"Please pass necessary notification under Regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 to implement the ban on all forms of processed/flavoured/scented chewing tobacco," Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a letter to Chief Minister Mukul Sangma recently, the official said.

Similar instructions were also issued to the chief ministers of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh.

Seeking to report to the Ministry after passing the order in this regard, Vardhan said this is to ensure safe and wholesome food to people which was also endorsed by the Allahabad High Court that tobacco is food.

The Union Minister, however, said all forms of tobacco causes oral cancer and the ban would save people of Meghalaya in particular and the region in general from the dreadful effect.

According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 2010 conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in association with the World Health Organisation (WHO), 55 per cent population of Meghalaya consume tobacco in some form or other, while national consumption rate of tobacco products is 34 per cent.

"The substances, whether going by the name or form of gutkha, zarda, may be banned under provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006," Vardhan said in his letter earlier this month.

"Smokeless tobacco is the most prevalent form with 206 million Indians using it as such consequent burden of mortality and morbidity due to consumption of smokeless tobacco is very high in India," he said.

The Union health minister also stated that sweet-flavoured processed smokeless tobacco is attracting vulnerable groups like women and children.

Meanwhile, Health and Family Welfare Commissioner and Secretary M R Synrem said that the state has banned gutka and pan masala.