By Megha Goswami
Meghalaya woke up to celebrations on Thursday as the name of the state is now indelibly linked to the current geographical age. Bearing in mind that Meghalaya covers just a little over 22,000 sq km; the fact that the state has its name appended to a geographical age is astounding.
However; the distinction is purely based on geographical facts and findings; findings that classify a phase of earth’s history as ‘Meghalayan age’ as ratified by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) after reports of a detailed research and studies were submitted to it for approval by an international team of geologists.
Scientists have found the clearest chemical signal for a transition into the Meghalayan age in the stalagmite formations rising from the cave floor in Mawmluh cave near Cherrapunji, that indicate that the new age began 4200 years ago. A portion of this stalagmite is now marked as a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP), an internationally-agreed boundary marker for a geological phase, the first formally ratified GSSP in India.
Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya, commented, “I think this is a very proud moment for everybody in Meghalaya. It’s a global phenomenon where the history of the earth and humanity is named after Meghalaya,” adding “we can proudly say, we are living in our age.”
Sangma visited Delhi accompanied by his tourism minister Metbah Lyngdoh to submit proposals to the Union tourism ministry for development of tourism in Meghalaya. The CM of Meghalaya state feels that so much more can be done to protect and preserve the integrity of the vast cave systems in the state.
Sangma said, “We need to have the right policies in place so that we protect these caves. It’s a very serious issue and we as a government are very concerned about it and we will be taking necessary steps,” he revealed that the state government may approach “necessary agencies” to facilitate world heritage site recognition for the Mawmluh cave.
Founding member of Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association (MAA) and a recipient of the prestigious Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award in 2002 Brian Daly Kharpran, said, “What we need most immediately is a clear commitment by the government to check rampant acts of illegal limestone mining.”
MAA accompanied by a team of 30 cavers from Europe discovered the world’s longest sandstone cave ‘Krem Puri’ at Laitsohum village, Mawsynram which measured 24.583km. In fact, fossils of dinosaurs, that lived 70 to 66 million years ago, were also found within the cave systems.