State Affairs

‘Asia’s cleanest village’ clings on to its serenity


In the tiny hamlet of Mawlynnong in the northeast, plastic is banned and spotless paths are lined with flowers — but its reputation as Asia’s cleanest village has proved a mixed blessing.

Until 2003 no tourists visited the remote community of 500 inhabitants high in the mountains of Meghalaya, which had no roads and was accessible only by foot.

Home to the Khasi tribal people, Mawlynnong is famous for its exceptional cleanliness, far removed from the noise and dirt of other big cities.

Bamboo dustbins stand at every corner, volunteers sweep the streets at regular intervals and large signboards order visitors to throw away plastic packaging: littering is sternly frowned upon.

After the village built its first road 12 years ago, a journalist from Discover India travel magazine wrote an article about the village.

The trickle of tourists became a flood, with visitors now reaching 250 a day in high season, swelling the village’s population by 50 per cent. But the accolades have brought several downsides.


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