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Polling officials trek down 7,000 steps to reach remote Meghalaya village

With a population of around 300 in 73 households, Nongblai has only 200 voters.
Last Updated : 19 April 2024, 02:20 IST
Last Updated : 19 April 2024, 02:20 IST

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Nongblai: Ninety-six-year-old Siej Khongsni of Nongblai village in Meghalaya has never been so excited to cast her vote for Lok Sabha elections – with the impact of social media being the major reason.

She listens to speeches of contesting candidates on social media every day.

"I am eager to cast my vote tomorrow. I am excited about it. I have made up my mind who would get my precious vote," she told PTI.

However, she is also upset as none of the contesting candidates have visited her village during campaigning.

With a population of around 300 in 73 households, Nongblai has only 200 voters.

Along with numerical disadvantage, one has to climb down 7,000 stone steps to reach the village. It takes around two hours of trekking from the nearest motorable road at Lyngkhat village near Pynursla town, which lies between Shillong and Dawki.

However, a four-member polling team has already reached the village and is preparing for elections on Friday.

"It was tiring but worthy of a duty towards fellow citizens and the country," one of polling personnel said.

The village falls under Shillong Lok Sabha seat.

Village headman Embdorlang Khonglam said the residents have very little demands -- better healthcare and a minimum support price for their produce which include betel leaf, broom sticks and bay leaf.

The village is special in terms of tourism potential although people are yet to make the best of it, he said.

As compared to Nongriat in Sohra (formerly known as Cherrapunjee), where tourists trek down over 5,000 steps to see the double decker living root-bridges, Nongblai has 17 root-bridges in an area spanning about one sq km, Khonglam said.

"The root-bridges are a major attraction and the tourism potential is immense. Residents are eager to earn from tourism. Some of the root-bridges here are more beautiful than anywhere else in Meghalaya," he said.

Root-bridges are built using the roots of ficus trees hanging from one end of the river to another end and allowing them get thicker and stronger over time until the roots form a bridge.

The village headman said there is only one school up to class 8 and those passing out have to attend high schools in Lyngkhat, Pynursla or Langkyrdem towns.

"A secondary and higher secondary school in the village will serve us best," he said.

Khongsni said that no MLA or members of tribal councils representing Nongblai has ever set foot in the village.

Her neighbour quipped that if one falls sick, he or she has to be carried by people to Langkyrdem sub-centre or to Pynursla which has a Community Health Centre.

"We need basic health facilities in the village. A nurse, if not a doctor, should be posted here," he said.

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Published 19 April 2024, 02:20 IST

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