Guinness World Record holder for being the wettest place on earth, Mawsynram is a small village in the district of East Khasi Hills of north-east Indian state of Meghalaya. The village receives an average annual rainfall of over 11,800 mm. The Guinness Book of World Records states that Mawsynram received a record-breaking rainfall of 26,000 mm in 1985.
Owing to the heavy rain it receives from the month of April until the end of September, Mawsynram has successfully overtaken its neighbor Cherrapunji to become the wettest place on the earth.
A mass of clouds entering the houses of Mawsynram are a common sight for people living here. They can literally touch the clouds, smell the clouds and even taste them. They put heaps of grass on the roof of their houses to soften the deafening sound of water as it rains exceptionally heavily during every monsoon.
For the kids of Mawsynram, monsoons means holidays as it is impossible to hear the voice of the teacher when the deafening rain falls on the tin roofs of the school building. During the months of monsoon, people cannot afford to leave the house without an umbrella. In fact, they make special basket-like umbrellas with reeds so that they can sustain the severity of the rains.
While the people of Mawsynram do all this and a lot more to cope with the bounty of water in their village during the six months the monsoon lasts, during the other months of the year, they struggle with severe shortage of water.
In the months of winter, this village becomes so dry and water deprived that the village headman’s major workload during these months is to placate the villagers busy quarreling at the water taps. Such severe shortage of water that usually begins around the month of October and lasts the entire winter makes the people of Mawsynram call it “the wettest dessert”.
The problem of water shortage during winters also persists in Cherrapunji but it is much less severe there as it gets more tourism because of its popularity. Some government schemes were launched and Cherrapunji, with the support of locals, expanded its forest cover considerably.
Mawsynram, however, still remains water deprived. The reason behind such acute shortage of water during the cold months of the year remains disputed but he major culprit of this deprivation is believed to be heavy deforestation activities by illegal logging groups enjoying political backing.
It is high time that the authorities pay attention to the plight of the people living here and struggling with the woes of excessive water during one part of the year and acute shortage during the other half!