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Meghalaya - Geography

Unlike the others of the seven sisters, Meghalaya's terrain consists more of rolling hills and less of steep climbs. There are beautiful meadows with fringes of pine forests everywhere. As if to complete the picture, there are breathtaking waterfalls with the waters plunging down hundreds of feet's. Meghalaya is a unique mixture of the traditional and the modern. People are fiercely proud of their roots and yet British influence is quite pronounced. Shillong is the busy hub center of Meghalaya.

Tucked away in the hills of eastern sub-Himalayas is Meghalaya, one of the most beautiful State in the country. Nature has blessed her with abundant rainfall, sun-shine, virgin forests, high plateaus, tumbling waterfalls, crystal clear rivers, meandering streamlets and above all with sturdy, intelligent and hospitable people.

Emergence of Meghalaya as an Autonomous State on 2nd April 1970 and as a full-fledged State on 21st January 1972 marked the beginning of a new era of the geo-political history of North Eastern India. It also marked the triumph of peaceful democratic negotiations, mutual understanding and victory over violence and intrigue.

The State of Meghalaya is situated on the north east of India. It extends for about 300 kilometres in length and about 100 kilometres in breadth. It is bounded on the north by Goalpara, Kamrup and Nowgong districts, on the east by Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills districts, all of Assam, and on the south and west by Bangladesh.

Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya is located at an altitude of 1496 meters above sea level. Shillong, which was made Assam's capital in 1874, remained so till January 1972, following the formation of Meghalaya. The capital city derives its name from the manifestation of the creator called Shyllong.

A compact and isolated state in the northeastern region of India, Meghalaya extends to 22,429 sq km of land. The landscape of Meghalaya is mostly rolling plateau with south-facing slopes being extremely steep. With the hill rising to 2,000 m, the state is cool despite its proximity to tropics. The state abounds in lakes and waterfalls. Meghalaya lies in a severe earthquake belt and it has already faced some of them in the centuries gone by.

The soils of the hills are derived from gneissic complex parent materials; they are dark brown to dark reddish-brown in colour, varying in depth from 50-200 cm. The texture of soils varies from loamy to fine loamy. The soils of the alluvial plains adjacent to the northwest and southern plateau are very deep, dark brown to reddish-brown in colour and sandy-loam to silty-clay in texture.

Meghalaya soils are rich in organic carbon, which is a measure of nitrogen supplying potential of the soil, deficient in available phosphorous and medium to low in available potassium. The reaction of the soils varies from acidic (pH 5.0 to 6.0) to strongly acidic (pH 4.5 to 5.0). Most of the soils occurring on higher altitudes under high rainfall belt are strongly acidic due to intense leaching. Base saturation of these soils is less than 35 %. These soils are not suitable for intensive crop production.

There is not much difference in fertility classes of the soils of the State. Four soils fertility classes, namely, High Low Medium (HLM), High Medium Medium (HMM), Medium Medium Low (MML), Medium Low Medium (MLM) have been established from the soil test data so far compiled in the Soil Testing Laboratory of the State.

Land use pattern is envisaged on land capability profile. Since land capability in the mountainous region is determined by the characteristics of micro and mini watersheds, land use pattern is therefore envisaged on the capabilities of each watershed and thus the potential of each watershed is thus envisage to be developed to yield sustainable land use.

Broadly the low lying areas were put under paddy during Kharif and with pulses, paddy, vegetables and oilseeds during the Rabi season depending on the availability of residual moisture and irrigation facilities.

Gentle slopes up to 20% were put under other crops like wheat, paddy, maize, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables etc, which not only contribute towards food security but also yield substantial revenue returns per unit of land and labour. On such slopes the concept of watershed management of land and water would be encouraged.

Horticulture was taken up on slopes above 20% and Border Areas, which are traditional horticultural areas, received special attention.

Forest cover in the State (42.01%) is below the national norm of 60% recommended for hilly areas. This is because a sizable proportion of the Forest area is reportedly under shifting cultivation resulting in depletion of the Forest Cover. A very meagre proportion of the geographical area (9.90%) is net sown area, including area under shifting cultivation. The potential net sown area could be increased if and when the fallow lands are utilised for cultivation purposes. The cultivable waste land of the state is 20.63% of the geographical area a part of which might be progressively utilised for cultivation purpose in the long run. The cropping intensity of the state is 120%.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 14:49:21 ZULU