How do people live here?
Construction activity almost comes to a standstill during the monsoon months. Usually, by September people of this area start lining up materials for the construction of houses. As the rains recede construction work picks up momentum and there is a rush to complete the construction work before the monsoon sets in. In the villages around Cherrapunjee where there are houses with thatch roofs one can notice a perceptible urgency in the months of late March and April to rush through redoing the thatch roof with fresh thatch. With rains coming eight months in a year, thatch roofs don’t stand a chance from rotting and breaking off within a year. However, the open log fire inside the house helps to keep the thatch dry and smoke acts as a preserver. A system of social security ensures that the poor don’t have to put up with a leaky roof for want of money. The leaf for thatch is available in the forests and house gardens. The poor can collect it and make the thatch themselves. Then a day is fixed in consultation with the people of the village to come to the aid of the house and do the roof on the appointed day. One person comes from each house to give a helping hand. The owner of the hut provides cooked rice, a meat dish and tea or something to eat according to one’s capacity and by evening the new roof is in place. The village Dorbar / Sirdar / Headman permits the poor to collect timber for the structure from the village forest. Of late the State Government has started providing bundles of tin sheet roofing to the people classified as BPL (Below Poverty Line) families and has embarked on a Social Housing Project involving construction of low cost houses for BPL families. So after sometime, hopefully, the ritual of redoing thatch roof before the monsoon rains will become history.