Moolamylliang village in Saipung C&RD Block has emerged as a beacon of environmental revival in the midst of East Jaintia Hills, renowned for its abundant coal deposits. For years, the village grappled with landscapes that wore a desolate look, a consequence of the community’s limited awareness regarding the detrimental impacts of environmental degradation. However, the turning point came in 2014 when the village administration made a pivotal decision to embark on a journey toward preserving and conserving their natural resources.

In response to this resolution, Moolamylliang Village initiated regular tree plantation drives, creating a stark contrast against the contaminated coal landscapes that envelop not only the village but the entire region. What was once barren and deserted has now transformed into a clean and green haven, showcasing the community’s commitment to sustainable living.

An integral part of this environmental resurgence is the Land Rehabilitation initiative conducted as part of the Community-led Landscape Management Project (CLLMP). Led by the Village Natural Resource Management Committee (VNRMC) and supported by the expert guidance of the District Project Manager Unit (DPMU) team under CLLMP, this project focused on restoring a one-hectare plot that was previously used as a coal depot. The selected area underwent a thorough process of rejuvenation. Soil examination revealed high acidity levels, with a pH of 4.18. Despite this challenge, the VNRMC members were undeterred and actively participated in the removal of mine spoil and pyritic materials, ensuring that the topsoil remained undisturbed. This meticulous approach was crucial in preventing acid-mine drainage and promoting sustainable land recovery.

The subsequent steps unfolded as a comprehensive approach to land rehabilitation. The soil was tilled to improve its texture, exposed to sunlight for weed control, and treated with agriculture lime (400 to 600 kg per hectare). This lime application is aimed to stabilize pH, increase phosphorus and potassium minerals, and enhance the decomposition of organic matter. The treated area was then left undisturbed for three months, allowing the lime to seamlessly integrate with the soil.

Plantation beds were meticulously prepared, and a thoughtful approach to moisture retention was adopted through mulching using grass or green leaves. The community embraced a sustainable and ecologically friendly approach by recommending the planting of local legumes. This multi-faceted strategy became a hallmark of the rehabilitation process, ensuring a holistic and enduring transformation of the once-degraded land.

In a commendable effort to maintain the newfound fertility of the rehabilitated land, the VNRMC facilitated an opportunity for an individual to take charge of cultivation. Initial attempts with cucumber revealed challenges stemming from residual soil infertility. However, undeterred by setbacks, the cultivation strategy pivoted to tomatoes, resulting in a remarkable 80% increase in yield—a testament to the success of the comprehensive land rehabilitation approach adopted by Moolamylliang Village. This success story not only highlights the positive impact of community-led initiatives but also serves as an inspiring model for sustainable environmental practices in coal-rich regions.

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