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Cleanest village in Garo Hills promoting tourism


TURA, June 19 - Aminda Rangsa (Amindagre), a remote village in the Gambegre block in West Garo Hills, is arguably the cleanest village of Garo Hills. The village, pristine, clean and green has earned a name for itself through the efforts of its residents who have taken up the mantle of attracting tourists to the region.

The unique initiative to promote and market the village as a �tourism destination� is slowly attracting visitors and the villagers are upbeat in ensuring cleanliness in the village. The villagers have also been inspired by late Lok Sabha Speaker and Tura MP, Purno A Sanmga, who just about a year ago, in an election rally had sought to promote the village as a tourist destination.

Aminda Rangsa is a perfect get-away being about 25 kms from Tura and close to nature. Beautiful landscapes, rugged terrains and a dense forest are the hallmark of Aminda Rangsa, where the community has come together to keep the village clean.

A small village with 39 households has a population of roughly 200 people, including children. In 2011, the village bagged the Nirmal Gram Puraskar. Motivated by the award, the villagers decided to emulate Mawlynlong village of East Khasi Hills, which has the distinction of being Asia�s cleanest village.

Handmade dustbins are kept in different locations of the village. �Our womenfolk undertake a mass cleaning drive once every month besides normal cleaning that happens every day. We take cleanliness seriously and want to promote our village as a destination for tourism,� said Jengman Sangma, a resident of the village.

The efforts of the villagers are not limited to only cleanliness but also environment with the villagers looking to increase the green cover as well. Now, the villagers want to create an identity for themselves. An ambitious plan of the villagers is to set up a Garo heritage museum.

�In 2011, our village bagged the Nirmal Gram Puraskar but we have not received any support from the government to fructify our ideas. We have conceived an idea to construct a heritage museum to attract visitors to our village�, said Wanson Marak, a member of the village development committee.

�In 2010, the Nokma of our village (village chief) and president and secretary of the village development committee motivated us to come together to ensure cleanliness and since then we have been making an effort to keep our village clean�, said an elderly resident.

Local artist Handum Marak�s creative visualisation has given shape to a park at Aminda Rangsa. He is an excellent wood and stone-carving artist. Handum, 41, earns his living by giving shape to his expression on wood and stones. Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has also engaged him to build a traditional Garo house at Ballonggre village, near Tura, which will have several woodcarving works.

At the park, which was constructed with generous donations from different agencies and villagers, Handum has etched his creativity on uprooted trees. �I wanted to contribute to my village with my creative expression, so I decided to do wood carving in the park, so that people can come and see the creations�, said Handum.

Last year, the village bagged an award for their conservation efforts from the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme (IBDLP), a flagship programme of the Meghalaya Government.

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