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A hilly Arunachal village where littering invites steep penalty

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ITANAGAR, Aug 23: Roads and other public places littered with
garbage are often found in various urban and rural areas across
the country, but a non-descript village atop a hill in Arunachal
Pradesh is spick and span always, thanks to the efforts of the
residents who are fined if caught throwing wastes outside their
For a first-timer to Kugi Pomte, situated about 12 kilometres
from West Siang district headquarters Aalo, it looks like a
typical Garo community village. However, it stands apart from
others as villagers ensure that no garbage is left unattended for
more than a day.
The villagers developed the habit of keeping their village clean
since the ‘80s, much before the launching of the central
government’s sanitation programmes – the Nirmal Bharat
Abhiyan in 1999 or the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014.
“The outbreak of malaria and other diseases in the ‘80s was the
main cause that prompted us to adopt cleanliness and
sanitation in the village. We sensitised the villagers about
keeping our surroundings clean and maintaining personal
hygiene to keep diseases at bay.
“Initially, it was tough, but people have realised the benefits of
cleanliness, and it has helped in maintaining the tempo,” Village
secretary Jomgam Ete said.

None will find polythene bags, plastic bottles, dead animals and
littered trash in the village.
All non-biodegradable items are dumped at a designated place
outside the village from where a government agency collects
them and takes them somewhere else. Dead animals and
poultry birds are buried at a particular site.
“There are some rules and regulations which have to be
followed by all. Breaching the rules invites a penalty to the tune
of Rs 500. Besides, those who violate the rule will have to lift
the garbage immediately,” the village secretary said.
Open defecation will also invite a heavy penalty. All fine
amounts go to the Village Council.
With nearly 30 households and a population of over 183 adult
members, the village achieved 100 per cent sanitation by
constructing individual household toilets in November 2003,
Ete said.
The village received a trophy from the West Siang district
administration for its sanitation drive in 2004. It was also
conferred with the Nirmal Gram Puraskar by the then state
Governor, Gen (Retd) J J Singh five years later.
The villagers conduct cleanliness drives twice a year –
sometime in August and October 2. The date in August is
decided by the villagers according to their convenience.

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“Every year, we discuss ways to improve sanitation and
hygiene,” Dege Ete, a villager said.
Interestingly, smoking is strictly prohibited during major public
gatherings or ceremonies in the village. Serving of Indian Made
Foreign Liquor (IMFL) is prohibited on any occasion, though
locally-made alcoholic beverages are allowed.
“We indulge in these things when we are away, but once we
are in the village, we have to accept them. Rules are rules,”
smiled villager Kirnya Ete. (PTI)

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur
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