Meghalaya: Umkhrah River gets facelift; How sustainable is the initiative?

Meghalaya: Umkhrah River gets facelift; How sustainable is the initiative?

SHILLONG, Dec 05:

Well, guess what! There's boating now in Umkhrah river; the river-turned-drained, located in the heart of Shillong, is now getting a face lift with government authorities, concerned individuals and environmentalists coming forward to clean the once mighty river.

The government has finally stepped up to the challenge with the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) taking up an initiative to clean the Umkhrah River; thanks to the funds received from the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority.

The MBDA has earmarked Rs 16 lakh for cleaning up of the Umkhrah River in view of the North East Food Fest which is being held at Polo Ground.

"We could start this initiative in view of funds received from the MBDA. We were keen to restore the past glory of the Umkhrah river. But we could not do so due to non-availability of funds," Urban Affairs Minister, Hamletson Dohling told reporters here today.

He further said that the SMB was lucky to receive the funds to clean Umkhrah River as it is one of the rivers which has turned into a drainage. "The Government has taken this initiative to attract the visitors of the food fest. We have been able to take up this task with the support of the Deputy Commissioner and Meghalaya Basin Development Authority," Dohling said.

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According to him, the SMB has been able to take up the exercise of cleaning the river in a big way even with a small amount of fund. "We can do a better job if we are provided with more funds. We will try our best to see that this initiative to clean up the river continues," Urban Affairs Minister said.

Replying to a query, he said that the initiative to clean up the Umkhrah River is from the bridge at Demseiniong upto the bridge at Polo adding that they have set up waste traps at various points.

"We would like to take up the cleaning of Umkhrah River right from Umkaliar in the near future. We will also like to adopt similar initiative in cleaning of the Umshyrpi River," he said.

When asked how will the Government ensure that this initiative is sustained, he said that the Government will not be able to do it alone without the support of the various stakeholders and the people at large.

"We will need the support of the local Dorbar Shnong of the localities which are close to the Umkhrah River. I think that they should also get involve especially after seeing this small efforts taken up by the Government," Dohling said.

According to him, people should stop dumping the garbage and release the waste into the river. "I know that the Government can take action against people who are polluting the river. But this would not help since the people have to realise the need to restore the past glory of the river," he said.

On encroachment along of the bank of Umkhrah River, he said that it will be difficult to comment since the issue is still pending at the court. "The State Government is very much against the encroachment along the river bank. But we cannot do anything since the matter is still in the court," he said.

Meanwhile, citizens, who are impressed with the river's new look, are however, unsure about its sustainability. Questions now arise — Will this initiative end with the food fest? Will it be short-lived or sustainable?

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