By Sheshu Babu*
‘The soul of India lives in its villages’ — Mahatma Gandhi
While cosmopolitan cities and even many villages are being polluted increasingly, there are some villages which are resisting environmental pollution by the people living there. One such village is Khonoma in the North East.
Khonoma is Asia’s first green village in the hills of Nagaland. The village is blessed with the largest rain forests in the state. Due to the community driven efforts of inhabitants, the success story of this village came to light in 2005. (“Khonoma: Travel guide to Asia’s first Green Village”, by UPSY, updated July 2 2019, unconventionalandvivid.com). Once known for aggressive hunting, abuse of forest resources, the village today stands in unity conserving 2000 hectares of forests by banning hunting, cutting down trees and fishing.
The village is located 20 Kms from Kohima, the capital of Nagaland. The village is also referred to as Khwunoria ( named after Angami term for a local plant Glouthera fragrantisima) and is estimated to be around 700 years old and spread over 123 sq kms. KHONOMA – The First Green Village – Northeast India, northeasttourism.gov.in). The population is around 3000 settled in 600 households.
The people of this region (Agami tribe) stood bravely in times of insurgency resisting both British and Indian army. It is famous for its unique type of agriculture . In northeast, the shifting cultivation, or Jhum ( slash and burn) is a well-known practice where forest patches are cleared leading to soil erosion and water shortage.
In Khonoma’s form of jhum, Adler trees are grown with the crops, recharging the nitrogen levels in the soil and preventing soil erosion, besides, also serving as a firewood source. (“Khonoma: Nagaland’s Warrior Village That Banned Hunting and Logging, by Kalpana Sunder”, updated February 19, 2019, thequint.com). The village, divided into three segments, is safeguarded by its own fort.
This village is an illustration of maintaining environmental balance and protecting flora and fauna in the face of deforestation and plunder of corporates for forest wealth. The environmentally – conscious Angami tribe decided to put a total ban on logging and hunting in 1998, the first of its kind in the state of Nagaland.
The people of this village are resolute and firmly believe in ecological and environmental protection of their village and pride themselves in showing natural wealth to the tourists.
Such measures are needed in the entire country so that forests along with wild life are protected. The rural folk are backbone of the country and guardians of Nature and clean environment
*The writer from everywhere and anywhere, supports civil liberties