In Assam's Rangsapara village, it is mandatory for all villagers to contribute towards community work and penalty charges are levied upon those who bunk a day at work. While male members take part in cleaning the village on Wednesdays, the women do it on Saturdays. The strong and dedicated work force has helped in maintaining Rangsapara as "the cleanest village" in the state.
"For male members who fail to contribute in the community work, the penalty is Rs 30 and for the female members, it is Rs 20. However, we have not collected much from fines as no one shies away from their responsibilities and the list of absentees is negligible. Whatever is collected as fine is spent in the refreshment," said village head Robert John Momin.
Situated about 140 kilometers from Guwahati, Rangsapara is a village constituting of 62 families and 550 members. Over the past 20 years, clealiness has been a habit for the villagers. Keeping the dwellings and the surrounding clean is a routine affair and contributions towards the community are made weekly.
"We had started the cleanliness drive in the year 2000. In 2015, we converted all the toiles into concrete ones and it caught the attention of the local authorities. In 2016, the village was declared as the cleanest one in Goalpara district. On February 10, 2017, our village was adjudged as the cleanest village in the state and awarded a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh. The effort continues with equal enthusiasm every day as being and remaining clean is a continuous process," said Momin.
In 2000, the villagers formed a managing committee that passed four resolutions namely, peace and unity, clean and hygienic toilets, clean drinking water, and cleaning the village, he added.
An agrarian society, Rangsapara flourishes in rubber plantation too. Surrounded by pristine beauty and picturesque locale, the village is a sought after tourist destination more so with the 'Clean' tag. School students along with those engaged in various environmental projects visit the village for field studies.
Post Covid-19 lockdown, the village opened for visitors in September adhering to all government protocols. Besides the penalty for abstinence form community service, anyone found under the influence of alcohol is also slapped a fine of Rs 5,001. Consumption and selling of any intoxicating items is banned in the village.
"We still have much to do as there is no high school in the village. We need street lights so that visitors can enjoy Rangsapara at night too. We also need a community hall where we can host our visitors," said the village head.
Some of the cleanest villages in the north-east are:
1. Khonoma: Located near Kohima in Nagaland, Khonoma is famous for its pristine beauty, lush green forests and unique type of agriculture.
2. The Vanghmun: Located on the Jampui Hills in North Tripura, bordering Mizoram, Vanghmun is one of the cleanest areas in the state.
3. Mawlynnong: Located about 90 kilometres away from Shillong in Meghalaya, Mawlynnong is known for its cleanliness and beauty. The waste is collected in dustbins made of bamboo kept in a pit and then is used as manure. Smoking and the use of polythene is banned in the village while rainwater harvesting is encouraged.
4. Mapao Zingsho: It is one of the cleanest villages in Manipur. In order to keep the village neat and tidy, elders in the village invite children to join them every Saturday in community work. Garbage bins are placed alongside roads and near every household to maintain cleanliness and a healthy life. The houses are also well maintained and decorated with craft work and paintings.