Clean sweep

| Updated on November 30, 2018

Meghalaya’s crystalline Umngot River is a matter of pride for people who live off and by it

A border town between two countries. Had it not been for a magical river that runs by it, Dawki, in the West Jaintia Hills district in Meghalaya, would not merit a longer or more colourful description. For Umngot is not just a river. It could easily be the cleanest river in India.

It is not just the absence of pollutants and garbage. Umngot is crystal clear, with emerald green waters. It comes with a surface that’s as still as the waters are deep. The boats moving across the river, appearing like little matchsticks from the edge of the cliffs above, seem to be gliding in space. Umngot remains green through the year, except in summer, when it turns somewhat muddy. And you can look right into the river, which is at least 15 ft deep. The town is also not too far from Mawlynnong, which calls itself Asia’s cleanest village. This also means that Umngot is no stranger to tourism. Anyone who visits Mawlynnong hops over to Dawki for a boat ride along the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Keeping the place clean — and plastic free — is a task that the locals, mostly members of the Khasi tribe, take pride in. They love fishing in the river but won’t allow nets or the use of chemical baits. Tourists are welcome, their garbage is not. There is little or no tolerance to the noise that the world associates with the Indian traveller.

Ritu Raj Konwar

Published on November 30, 2018

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