Umling, is a village deep in the mountainous range of Meghalaya. Villagers live off the land to support themselves. There are no roads and no water supply.
Infants play covered in mud and grime, being nursed by their elder siblings. Other children, no older than eight years old, are carrying loads twice their size and weight on their backs, helping out with the household responsibilities.
Situation is not any better for the elderly, who toil in the fields everyday without any respite. There aren’t any employment opportunities for the younger generation either since there are no industries due to militant threats. Unfortunately, this is a sight common to most of the North-East region of our country. Insurgency is a chronic problem and the region’s geography is also a contributing factor.
Over 98% of the region shares international borders with China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
In the last few years, a lot of money has been allocated by the government for infrastructure development.
One such government-led initiative is the Export Promotion Industrial Project, set up at Byrnihat, in the Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya. In this industrial zone, firms are provided basic infrastructure and incentives, like tax holidays and subsidies, to set up their operations.
The locals are of the opinion that the industries are exploiting them and their region. Unless that dichotomy is resolved, development may be far-fetched for this region. Read more here.