The Telegraph
Saturday , September 3 , 2016

Twelve Northeast true legends honoured

Guwahati, Sept. 2: Twelve achievers from the Northeast left the audience spellbound as they relived their inspiring stories of success one by one. At the end of each tale, listeners in the auditorium of Radisson Blu could not help but appreciate the sacrifices made and the challenges overcome to fulfil what they had aspired for.

The 12 achievers were this evening honoured and recognised for their contributions towards the betterment of humanity at the second edition of the Seagram's 100 Pipers Pure Music CDs presents True Legends Awards 2016 Northeast, in association with The Telegraph.

This year's awardees include three from Assam, two each from Meghalaya, Nagaland and Sikkim, and one each from Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.

They come from diverse backgrounds, having made a mark with their undying dedication in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, entrepreneurship, wildlife tourism and more.

Assam's Ravi Kannan, who set up a cancer hospital for the underprivileged in Cachar district, recalled his journey to offer healthcare services, including chemotherapy, at home for patients who could not commute to a hospital.

"However, we still have to cope with the challenge of limited human resources to offer services. But at the same time, we do have qualified staff now," he said.

Sikkim's Sushil Tamang spoke about his trials and tribulations in promoting rural tourism in his village from scratch and creation of jobs. "My project, Dream Tourism,started in 2005 after we decided to think differently and do something for my village Darap in West Sikkim. In 2008, we conducted training for rural tourism guides and food programmes for women. We have home stays,traditional food and souvenir shops and sightseeing services for tourists now. The annual income of every household in the village now is Rs 94,400," he said.

Nalong Mize, who has been driving sustainable development and community work in Arunachal Pradesh, said his journey began 15 years back. "We have tried to involve all the people and legislators of the mountain regions to bring them under a common platform through which they can voice their concerns," the secretary of Sustainable Development Forum of Arunachal Pradesh, a policy advocacy organisation, said.

Meghalaya's Piran Elavia, founder of Kipepeo, a tourism venture, recounted his promotion of the limestone caves in the hill state. "We have been promoting the caves for the past four to five years and campaigning against mining," Elavia said.

Tseten Lepcha, founder member and former working president of Affected Citizens of Teesta, an NGO of Sikkim incepted in 1995, said he was aware of the benefits of hydel energy but the people who live near rivers must not be affected by mega dams. "Fifteen of the 28 hydel projects have been scrapped because of our efforts. We will continue our movement for the Teesta in a democratic and peaceful manner," Lepcha said.

Daniel Syiem, ethnic designer from Meghalaya, spoke about weaving his stories and dreams on the traditional ryndia and eri silk.

Dilip Barooah, social entrepreneur and founder of Fabric Plus Pvt Ltd, spoke of how he empowered weavers and other stakeholdersthrough value addition of eri products and other handloom ventures.

Bano Haralu, conservationist and managing trustee of the Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust, spoke of the initiatives to protect Amur falcons and the challenges associated in converting hunters of the bird to its conservationists.

L. Deepak Singh, president of The Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+), an NGO that works for HIV-affected people and drug users in his state, talked about his battle with HIV as a patient and the stigma associated with such a victim.

Assam's Leena Saikia explained how her firm Frontal Agritech promoted bhut jolokia as the hottest chilly in India and abroad apart from creating a market for organic and conventional farming of commercial agricultural crops. "About 5,000 farmers are our beneficiaries today," she said.

Jenpu Rongmei, founder, CAN Youth, an NGO, recalled his childhood struggles and the initiatives to nurture youths, particularly school dropouts, of Nagaland through training.

Pachuau Rohmingthanga, an IAS officer from Mizoram,spoke about his role in unearthing heritage sites and preserving archaeological sites, including megaliths, in the hill state.

The awards were given away by dignitaries Sailen Baruah, Anand Prakash Tiwari, Rajesh Prasad, Umesh Kumar, Tanveer Singh, Bipin Majumdar, Shyamal Bhutan, Purnima Saikia and A.K. Sharma, among others.

True legends indeed, they will be remembered for their good work.

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