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Shillong ups its winter fashion game!

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Shillong temperatures can drop as low as 0.8°C in the winters and people are keeping themselves warm in style. From Longline coats and jackets to stylish patterened cardigans and pullovers to accessories like woollen caps and mufflers paired with boots of diffferent kinds like the in-fashion ankle boots, mid-length boots, knee-length boots and uggs, the people of Shillong are ready for a fashionable winter.

Smaller Funds for Indigenous Festivals: James Sangma questions Government

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Tura, Nov 11, 2017: The MUA II government is already criticised for organizing a Cherry Blossom festival at a time when none of the trees are blossoming. James Sangma who is the leader of NPP and MLA of Dadenggre also fired shots at the Government and questioned the difference in funds alloted to indigenous festivals when compared to festivals like ‘Cherry Blossom’ organized by the state.

Garo Hills is currently in the grip of its biggest festival ‘Wangala’ which will conclude tomorrow after the combined beating of a 100 traditional drums. The chief minister, Dr Mukul Sangma is expected to be the chief guest for the event tomorrow.

While giving a speech at the festival yesterday, James questioned the difference in funding while questioning “Why smaller funds were provided for traditional festivals?”

ALSO READ: 5 facts to know about the ‘100 Drums or Wangala Festival’ of Meghalaya!

The NPP leader stated that the Cherry Blossom festival held last year cost a whooping 91 lakhs and this year the cost of the festival is estimated to cross 1 crore.

“While such a huge amount is spent for the Cherry Blossom festival, yet, for Khasi, Jaintia and Garo traditional festivals, only Rs 25 lakh was released by the government. I would appeal to the government to provide equal funding for the traditional celebrations also,” said James while expressing his concern over the large scale difference in the funding pattern.

TNT News

Students in Garo Hills use community hall as a classroom, 106 year old school in tatters

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Tura, November 10, 2017: A 106 year school in Okkapara in South West Garo Hills has been lying in tatters for more than 5 years now. The Okkapara LP School was established in 1911 and is one of the oldest schools in the region. The school, which does not even have a roof over its head has drawn the anger of local residents. The matter has even been brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner of the District but there has not yet been any initiative to repair the school.

“Given its status as one of the oldest schools in the region, there should have been special stress to ensure it is properly maintained. This is a shame to not only the school administration and the government but to every resident of Garo Hills. How can we have children studying in these kind of circumstances,” said Achik Youth Council member, Maxbirth G Momin.

An NGO who had visited this place earlier, sent a letter to the DC of SWGH, CVD Diengdoh two months earlier, regarding the pathetic conditions of the school hoping that action would be taken. The DC then forwarded the matter the to the education department for a look in. However, even till today, there has been no attempt to repair the school.

“The students are currently using the Angandwadi centre and the Community Hall of the village to continue their studies. This already shows their dedication to education. Unfortunately it seems they are the only one serious about their education. The school is bare and has no roof. How do you expect our children to study there,” added another AYC member, Silning D Sangma.

A school in Bolbokgre in WGH, which was in a similar kind of condition is now being repaired after pressure from the NGO led to the sanctioning of money for the repair.

“Is the education department blind, or just daft? How are they not able to see the state of the schools and report to concerned authorities? This just shows their laziness and how much the education department works for the bettering of education in Garo Hills. This negligence is criminal and they should be taken to task. Their inaction is leading to schools going without basic infrastructure,” added another social activist, Avinash Marak after a visit to the school earlier.

The deputy commissioner of SWGH however could not be reached on the matter, till the filing of this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disqualification of Parl Secys: Petitioner to meet Gov on Monday

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Shillong, Nov 11, 2017: Days after the Meghalaya High Court passed an order quashing the Meghalaya Parliamentary Secretaries Act 2005, Madal Sumer, the petitioner in the parliamentary secretary issue will meet the Governor Ganga Prasad on Monday to file a representation seeking disqualification of all the MLAs who were named in the PIL.

Sumer was supposed to meet the Governor on Friday, however, due to the latter’s absence, the meeting was postponed for Monday. Governor is in Garo Hills to attend the on-going Wangala Festival.

It is also expected that Sumer will request the Governor to dismiss the MUA-II government since it has been reduced to a minority with the disqualification of the 17 MLAs.

ALSO READ: Meghalaya High Court strikes down State Parliamentary Secretaries Act

“There is a severe breakdown of constitutional machineries in the state of Meghalaya as MLAs were allowed to hold office of profits by this present government for more than four years,” Sumer said.

He also said that he will urge the Meghalaya Governor to immediately dismiss the present government and to direct the state not to release the MLA schemes of all those named in the PIL as they are no longer legislators and stand disqualified for holding office of profit.

ALSO READ: Meghalaya: 17 Parliamentary Secys’ resign hours after High Court’s verdict

Sumer also said that the state government should direct the MLAs holding office of profit to return all the salary, perks, which they have withdrawn from the government from the date of their appointment for serving in the unconstitutional office as they stand disqualified from that date onwards.

Shillong News

Illegal Coal trucks from Meghalaya plying unchecked into Assam

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-By Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee| November 9 2017

Silchar, November 8, 2017: Even as the government is making various efforts to curb corruption from the country, complaints from various quarters about the practice of coal transport in an illegal manner from Meghalaya to Assam’s Barak Valley have raised serious questions on the role of the police authority.

Complaints have been pouring in that trucks/lorries overloaded with coal enter Barak Valley from Meghalaya on a regular basis. The exercise has apparently become an easy affair after the Digarkhal check-gate on the National Highway-6 was shut down. Digarkhal, which falls under Cachar district is around 190km from Shillong and 35km from Silchar.

The state government had shut down the inter-state check-gates this year, a step aimed at reducing transportation cost of items coming from other states. The authority of patrolling and maintaining a vigil on vehicles entering into Barak Valley through the National Highway-6 came under the control of Assam police after the check-gate was closed. However, overloaded trucks have been plying daily through the road without any trouble at all. Complaints are also floating that a section of police is facilitating the unlawful practice in exchange of money.

Moreover, the overloaded lorries/trucks have been causing immense damage to the already-dilapidated roads in the valley furthering woes of commuters. Most of the roads here are in shambles and the plying of overloaded vehicles is worsening their condition to a great extent.

A large section of citizens have expressed dissatisfaction over the authorities concerned for allegedly being “negligent” over the matter and said even though government taxes are being evaded, there has been no step taken to stop the exercise so far.

Speaking to TNT– The Northeast Today, the district transport officer of Cachar – Angshuman Biswas said as per guidelines six-wheel lorries can take a load of 10 tons (each), while the weight limit for lorries with 10 wheels is 15 tons.

Sources said 25-30 trucks come to the valley from Meghalaya almost every day, mostly during late nights in order to avoid being spotted, and each truck/lorry carries around 28-30 tons of coal. The figures are shown around 10-15 tons in documents, whereas the actual amount of coal transported is much higher than that, sources said.

Sources said the coal is transported to different tea gardens and brick factories in Barak Valley. Coal has a high demand in tea garden factories and brick factories. There are 104 tea estates and more than 200 brick factories in the valley.

Besides coal, cement is also transported from Meghalaya in a similar manner. Trucks overloaded with cement have been plying through the road (National Highway-6) and coming to the valley for the past few months, sources said.

Cachar superintendent of police Rakesh Roushan told TNT- The Northeast Today that he had received some complaints about that around one and a half months back following which police swung into action and necessary steps were taken. He said police are active across the district and that patrolling would be intensified for a crackdown on the practices.

Stern action would be taken against those found involved, he added.

The writer can be contacted at swapnaneel.bhatt555@gmail.com

Meghalaya: Increasing waste generation in tourist spots of Shillong, an emerging threat!

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By Stefan WannLyngdoh and Gardinia Nongbri | November 9, 2017

Tourism in Meghalaya has been witnessing expansion over the years. The increase in tourist brings resultant economic gains to the state’s exchequer. The aesthetic beauty and hilly landscape of the state attract tourists from all parts of the world. However, with the increase in tourist inflow, the amount of waste production has also shown a sharp increase. Waste generation has been a problem for centuries. Lack of treatment systems and waste management processes continue to act as hindrances in our attempts for successful alternatives to tackle daily waste generation. Furthermore, improper management of waste causes emission of green-house gases, toxic fumes and particulate matters as they accumulate in open dump sites. These wastes are also capable of leaching organic or chemical compounds to contaminate the ground where such waste lay accumulated. Solid wastes thrown on streets, highways and waterways can cause pollution when they are carried off by rain water run-offs or by flood water to the main streams or drainage contaminating larger water bodies.

The present study was conducted to measure the type and quantity of waste generated on a daily basis, in the two important tourist spots, namely, the Ward’s Lake and Lady Hydari Park, located in the heart of Shillong and to assess the efficacy of waste management practices being followed  therenotwithstanding the perception of tourists on waste generation and its management in these two places.

Data have been obtained by segregating the wasteand measurement of the same by using weight measurement scale (kg). Data were also generated through structured observation, interviews, questionnaires, field researchfrom managing staff and secondary data through literature, books and articles.

Lady Hydari Park (LHP)

Lady Hydari Park is named after the first lady of the area, the wife of the first Governor of Assam, Sir Akbar Hydari at a time when Shillong was under theadministrative control of the Assam Government during the British rule in India. It is one of the best maintained parks in the city presently under the control and jurisdiction of the Wildlife Division of the Department of Forest and Environment, Government of Meghalaya. The park also houses a museum which highlights the state’s rich bio-diversity especially the Himalayan black bear, kite, hornbill and mynah. The park also has anexquisite variety of orchids and flowering plants.

Ward’s Lake (WL)

Ward’s Lake is located in the heart of the city. This horse-shoe shaped lake is a popular spot to take a stroll or to admire the green lawns dotted with multi-colored flowers. It is named after Sir William Ward, the then Chief Commissioner of Assam, who initiated the plan for the construction of this lake. The lake was later constructed by Colonel Hopkins in the year 1894, This lake has natural beauty at its very best.  It is being maintained presently by the Social Forestry Division of the Department of Forest and Environment, Deaprtment of Fisheries and Deaprtment of Irrigation, Government of Meghalaya. It is also said that the area around this place was made by a Khasi prisoner, who requested to let him work to bring a change to his monotonous daily routine. Thus, his role in beautifying the place is something which is remembered even today.

Waste Generation:

The amount of waste generated in Lady Hydari Park and Ward’s Lake categorized on a weekly and daily basis is given in the Table 1 and 2 respectively.

Table 1: Waste Generation in Lady Hydari Park (LHP)

 Table 2: Waste Generation in Ward’s Lake (WL)

Waste Management Process

Lady Hydari Park (LHP)

The amountof waste produced in LHP is stored in dustbins before it is collected.  There are 34 dustbins placed in different locations of the park. The waste is collected at the end of each day before the park is closed.There are eight cleaners employed for the maintenance of cleanliness of the park. The vast area of LHP is divided into four zones, for the cleaners to be able to be more efficient in their work; the animal area, the children’s park, the museum and the administration office area. This way the park is well maintained and the cleaning work force is well organized. After the collection is done, the cleaners dump the waste in dumpsites located within the park and the waste is then burnt. There are four dumpsites, two near the entrance, one on the outer part of the animal park towards the exit, and one near the children’s park towards the toilet facility. The types of waste collected can be categorized into bio-degradable and non-biodegradablethough the waste produced in the park is not segregated into bio-degradable and non- biodegradable.The bio-degradable include paper, leaves, and food scraps. The non-biodegradable wastes include plastic, tin, metal, foil, and glass bottles etc.

According to the management staff of LHP, animal feed waste and stool generated from the animal park are buried in pits. It was found that 75% of the management staff interviewed were aware ofsegregating waste into bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste. However, 25% were not aware of segregation of waste.

Steps by the management to reduce waste generation have beenin the form of not allowing the use of Plastic packets thereby compelling shopkeepers who sell plastic packed food to provide food in paper bags enabling the tourists to  take food and snacks inside the tourist premises.  This decision to reduce the amount of waste generation by this method inside the Park was brought in to effect on 5th of June 2014 coinciding with the World Environment Day.

 Ward’s Lake (WL)

Solid waste generated in the lake is stored in dustbins. There are about 60-65 dustbins set up in the tourist spot to store the waste. The local basket called khohis used as dustbins. This khoh can store upto approximately 10 kg 200 gm of waste. The waste is collected from dustbins, administration office, ticket counters and the boathouse twice a day, i.e.  in the morning and evening.

The type of waste that is generated can be categorized into bio-degradable and non-biodegradable. The biodegradable waste generated includes paper, food scraps, and leaves. The non-biodegradable waste generated includes plastic, tin can, foil, glass bottles and other wastes like rubber, metal etc. After the collection, the waste is then dumped into one dumpsite and then burnt.

For the maintenance of cleanliness of the lake, the authorities have employed 20 gardeners and 6 care takers to clean the lake and its surroundings. The lake is closed on every Tuesdayfor maintenance.

It was found during the survey that 83%of the staff sampled were not aware of segregation of wastes into bio-degradable and non-biodegradable and only 16.6% were aware of waste management and segregation.

Steps by the staff and management have been initiatedto reduce waste generation. The shopkeepers in the vicinity of Ward’s Lake (WL) have been instructedthat no plastic waste would be allowed inside WL. Hence shopkeepers who sell plastic packed food have to provide paper bag to pack the food enabling the tourists to take food and snacks inside the Lake.

Perception of Tourists:

Lady Hydari Park and Ward’s Lake

Out of the 100 tourists that were interviewed in the two tourist spots (50 from each), 55% of them were local tourists and 45% were tourists from different parts of the country like Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Varanasi, Chennai, Arunachal Pradesh, Dibrugarh and other parts of Assam, Delhi, Kerala, Manipur, Mizoram etc. In terms of their perception of the tourist spots regarding waste management, 58% had no complains about the waste management process, 23% of the tourists had complained about the cleanliness of the water bodies and the unpleasant odor, 5% complained about the cleanliness of the tourists spots in general,e.g the toilets, the animal cages and  the surroundings. 7% wanted more dustbins to be available and an awareness campaign on proper waste management by the concerned authorities, 3% wanted better waste management system, while 2% wanted renovation of the tourist spots.  2% of the respondents wanted the shops around tourists spot’s to stop selling food in plastics.

From the above data, it is evident that waste generated in Ward’s lake is much higher than Lady Hydari Park. From both these tourist spots, 166.933kgof waste is produced per week whileapproximately 667.732kg and 8.013 tonnesare produced monthly and yearly respectively. With continuous generation of waste and no proper treatment of waste (biodegradable and non-biodegradable) in place, there ought to be an effective waste management process in place. Theconcerned authorities need to put proper treatment process for management of the same. This does not require heavy machinery or large scale economic investment but adoption of simple  methodslike vermi-composting, recycling, re-using and reducing  the municipal solid waste in to manures or useful products which can bring about additional income, generationemployment and ensure a cleaner environment.By such cost effective methods, both the Ward’s Lake and Lady Hydari Park can be assured of its status as twopre-eminent tourist spots of Shillong. Nowadays, there is a greater amount of thrust on developing various areas including forests as eco-tourism sites with the objective of generating livelihood for the community especially in the rural areas.The study provides baseline information on the magnitude of waste generation in tourist spots and its potential to become an unmanageable menace if proper waste management system is not put in place at an appropriate time.

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The present study was conducted by Mr. Stefan WannLyngdoh as part of his Master degree dissertation work under the supervision of Ms. GardiniaNongbri, a faculty of the department of Environment &Traditional Ecosystems, Martin Luther Christian University, Shillong.

The author can be reached at stefanwann@gmail.com

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