President of India Droupadi Murmu said that the tribal lifestyle contributes to the promotion of national goals of biodiversity conservation and maintaining the ecological balance.
Before addressing a public meeting near the famous Sacred Grove at Mawphlang on Tuesday, about 25 kilometres from Shillong, the President also virtually inaugurated the upgraded Rongjeng Mangsang Adokgre Road and Mairang Ranigodown Azra Road and laid the foundation stones for Shillong Peak Ropeway and tourist accommodations in the villages of Kongthong, Mawlyngot and Kudengrim.
Murmu during her maiden visit to Mawphlang admired the 700-year-old sacred grove and applauded the wisdom of the forefathers who understood and used the traditional concept of conserving nature.
“We all should make serious efforts to preserve this kind of forest which is a treasure-house of biodiversity,” she said. She added that the sacred grove has attracted many visitors, tourists and researchers from around the globe.
She said that since time immemorial, tribal people have been the vanguard of environmental conservation based on indigenous knowledge, culture, and religious beliefs.
She noted that Meghalayan people believe that ‘U Basa’ or goddess dwells among lush green forests.
The President also emphasised that tribal practices can be good case studies of how there can be a symbiotic relationship between human beings and nature.
Highlighting the role of women in conservation and climate action efforts, Murmu said that it is well-documented that women are at the heart of the conservation efforts. Women in tribal societies have been showing the way in protecting the environment and sharing their wisdom and skills to enhance adaptation and mitigation. By increasing the participation of women in climate initiatives and decision-making processes, more can be done for effective climate action and biodiversity conservation.
The President was happy to note that Meghalaya has been making a determined effort to emerge as a model state and offering a balanced approach to modernity and tradition.
She said that with good FDI inflows, high exports and a dynamic demography, Meghalaya is emerging as a growth leader and offers an inspiring story.
“With good FDI inflows, high exports and a dynamic demography Meghalaya is emerging as a growth leader and offers an inspiring story,” she said and also mentioned about local produce such as Lakadong turmeric and strawberries which she said are high in demand.
Referring to the various connectivity related and developmental projects that were inaugurated during the occasion, the President expressed confidence that the projects will improve connectivity and will enable Meghalaya to move ahead on the path of sustainable and inclusive development.
During his address, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, expressing gratitude to the President for her visit to the state and for the virtual inauguration of various projects said that the concept of Rural Tourism will offer the people of Meghalaya an opportunity to not only preserve the way of life but to showcase it to the world grounded in the principles of sustainable and responsible tourism.
The chief minister also said that the government has set the ambitious target of making Meghalaya a 10 billion US dollar economy by 2028 and the tourism sector being a job multiplier will play a crucial role in achieving the target and create sustainable livelihoods for the people of the state and showcase the natural beauty of our landscape to the rest of the world.
He also highlighted various innovative steps taken by the State government to promote adventure tourism.
The chief minister also said that roads are a part of a much larger effort by the government to develop the infrastructure of our state.
Stating that Meghalaya is taking the lead in preserving its 76%forest cover that will help combat climate change, he thanked the communities that are at the forefront of this effort to preserve and protect our forests.
The chief minister concluded saying the historic two-day visit to our state has been truly inspiring and motivating not only for the athletes, the youth, the women Self-Help Groups but for all the Meghalayans who are in jubilation and are proud of your achievement as being the first President of India from our tribal communities.
Earlier, the President was also given a demonstration by the Khongtong whistlers during her visit to the Heritage Village next to the Mawphlang Sacred Groves.
Those present on the occasion include deputy chief ministers – Prestone Tynsong and Sniawbhalang Dhar, Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh and Agriculture Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh.