<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For artists making nature a theme for their art, this tiny village of 500 souls nestled amongst lush green forests in a remote corner in south of Meghalaya, along the Indo-Bangladesh border, is a perfect destination.Situated in the East Khasi Hill district, the village is famous for its cleanliness and of late has become an attraction point for central and various state government officials to learn tricks to make Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean India Mission) successful.Functional toilets in every household, no stray animals on the streets, paved pathways, solar-lit streets and bamboo dustbins at every corner, the village, nick-named as God’s Own Garden, is consistently working to retain its prestigious tag of the cleanest village of Asia; conferred on it in 2003. No traces of fallen and dry leaves can be seen as they go straight into a dustbin. Not only are plastic bags banned, but smoking is also prohibited in this village. The rules are strictly followed and the defaulters are heavily charged.The story began some 29 years ago when a primary school teacher, Rishot Khongthohrem, concerned at the successive epidemics that had consumed lives of many children in 1988, proposed to launch a cleanliness drive. “There were sceptics in the village executive committee who dismissed the idea as impractical. But Rishot insisted and proposed a comprehensive plan,” said member of the village committee, Lamphrang, also a retired teacher.The village headman, Banjop Thiaw, teaches government officials and scores of voluntary organisations, which can be touted as pf the secrets behind the successful accomplishment of a swachh mission in the village.Sitting cozy outside his tidy home, villager Enes Khonglamet recalls how after the village committee had launched the cleanliness drive in 1988, within two years the streets and houses had become spic-and-span. The first order came to put animals in enclosures, whether domesticated or stray. Then every household was told to construct toilets alongwith septic tanks and then were asked to attend to kitchen waste. All 97 houses in the village have septic and compost pits dug in the adjoining garden.”It is mandatory for every household to segregate organic waste from plastics etc. The organic waste is placed in the compost pit that converts it into manure, which is later used in the fields. The inorganic waste is collected in a large bamboo waste box, which is transported to Shillong once a month, and is handed over to a recycling plant,” says Lamphrang.One of the farmers Khonglamet recalls that there was lot of opposition, as poor villagers had to use their meagre resources to build all these things. But looking back, he recalls with sparkles in his eyes that cleanliness has brought fortunes and pots of money to the village.”It is become a big tourist attraction now. During the peak season, 2,000-odd tourists visit the village on a daily basis,” he said. Khonglamet hopes that his son who is studying commerce in Shillong will return to set up a tourist related business here.”We charge every vehicle Rs 50 for entering the village. Therefore, we are self-sufficient to repair and attend to maintenance of pathways. There are 22 guest houses in the village that have 100 per cent occupancy between May and September. Also there are seven eateries which serve village organic food. The village is connected to nearby Rawa village through a unique Living Root Bridges which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hanging on a river, the bridges are made by connecting the aerial roots of seven massive rubber trees with each other.Asked if the experiment of Mawlynnong has been replicated elsewhere, Lamprang tells DNA, “Meghalaya government had tried to convince other villages and had even offered incentives. Other village heads had attempted the cleanliness drive to lure tourists and raise income of their village, but you know sanitation is not about money, but changing the habit of people. We succeeded changing the social habits of people. No amount of force, but only cajoling and their own understanding can bring changes in habits. As you know, old habits die hard.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The heads of the country’s two largest lenders on Monday picked up brooms on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, and pledged resources and money to make the government’s ‘Clean India’ drive a success.ICICI Bank’s chief executive Chanda Kochhar announced a plan to train 1.5 lakh individuals for sanitation, health and hygiene awareness programme over the next one month.SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said they will increase digital banking to reduce the use of paper which will help the environment as well as lead to better cleanliness.Lead by Bhattacharya, around 250 senior employees of SBI cleaned the area around the Girgaum Chowpatty in the heart of the city, while Kochhar and her senior management officials cleaned the area near its branch in the Backbay Reclamation area of the city.On the occasion, Bhattacharya said the drive will hopefully encourage everyone to come together and help turn Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of a clean India into a reality.”SBI’s commitment towards digital banking is another way of supporting a clean India as less usage of paper will lead to a lot of reduction in waste and making the environment healthy and a clean place to live,” she said.Kochhar said in November 2014, ICICI Bank adopted the ‘Clean India Mission’ and since then on every working day, the employees of one branch of the bank have been participating in the initiative by cleaning the area surrounding their office.”So far, 6,000 of our employees have cleaned the areas near 800 of our branches in over 130 cities,” she said.Starting from Tuesday, ICICI will also organise multiple sanitation, health and hygiene training modules which will be conducted across all the 24 urban centres and over 200 rural centres of ICICI Academy for Skills, and 17 rural self- employment training institutes, she said.”Tomorrow alone, they will train over 15,000 individuals,” she said.The bank, through its efforts, aims to train nearly 1.5 lakh people over the next month alone, Kochhar said. Bhattacharya said the SBI workforce will carry out similar clean-up activities elsewhere.”SBI aims to improve the quality of life and make the country sustainable by carrying forward this initiative on a regular basis,” she added.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India remembers Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi on his 148th birth anniversary on Monday.President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to ‘Bapu’ at Rajghat in the national capital in morning.PM Modi took to Twitter and said, “I bow to beloved Bapu.”Other leaders also said that Mahtama Gandhi continues to inspire India.The Prime Minister will also review the progress of his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India mission) on its third anniversary on Monday.It is believed that this mega drive has increased sanitation scenario from 39% to 67.5%.Government officials say with this rate, they will be able to declare 10 states free of open defecation by March 2018.The mission was launched on October 2, 2014, to eradicate open defecation by 2019, by constructing 12 million toilets in the country at an estimated cost of Rs 1.96 lakh crore.The national campaign, covers 4,041 statutory cities and towns. Its predecessors were the ‘Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan’ and ;Total Sanitation Campaign’. But they didn’t evolve into a full-fledged campaign with a mass following.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apparently bowled over by the “love and affection” he received during his visit to Guntur today, Samajwadi Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav quipped that he might have to leave UP and relocate to Andhra Pradesh. “This is my first visit to AP, but people seem to recognise me well. You have shown a lot of love and affection towards me. “I guess I will have to leave UP and relocate to AP,” the young leader said, addressing the Pratyeka Hoda Bharosa Sabha organised by the Congress party here this evening. The crowd cheered whenever Akhilesh’s name was mentioned by other speakers as he remained the star attraction along with Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi. Akhilesh addressed the gathering for less than ten minutes and sounded overwhelmed by the crowd’s response to him. “I will not forget your love,” he said. “Rahul ji and we all came here for your well-being. We are asking for special category status (SCS) to AP from those who promised achhe din for the country. “Modi ji, you said Make in India, Digital India, Clean India and the like. When will you make AP a developed state,” Akhilesh asked the prime minister. Referring to the two main parties in AP, the SP leader said there was no better chance for them than the upcoming presidential election to press for the SCS. “If you vote, do it on the condition that the state be granted SCS,” he told them. SCS would bring in jobs for AP’s youths and better the lot of the farmers, he said. Pointing out that the ruling TDP’s (election) symbol was cycle like that of his own party, the SP leader, however, remarked that only Rahul (Gandhi) and he could ride it fast. “We have all come together. This formation will become very formidable in future,” Akhilesh said, referring to the coming together of parties like the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the JD (U), the DMK, the CPI, the RJD and others.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Clean India mission has become a mass movement and over 100 districts across the country have become open defecation free (ODF), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today. “I am glad that the Swachh Bharat Mission is a mass movement, with over 100 districts now open defecation free,” he said on Twitter. There are three ODF states, 101 such districts and 1,67,226 such villages in the country. A total of 34,879,320 toilets have also been built in households, as per the information shared by Modi on the mirco-blogging site. The Swachh Bharat Mission was launched on October 2, 2014 by the Prime Minister with an aim to eradicate open defecation by 2019. The ambitious mission is divided into two categories — Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)