A single man who planted an entire forest with his bare hands with only an idea of a sustainable future. This is more than a story it’s a real-life example of will power and firm determination of a boy who wouldn’t let the planet die.
Jadav Molai Payeng, then a 16-year boy from an indigenous ‘Missing’ tribe of Assam was heartbroken by the sight of hundreds of dead snake due to excessive heat in the tree-less sandbar, out of impulse he planted 20 seedlings on the sandy coast of the Brahmaputra and over a course of several decades, now there exists a dense forest in 1,350 acres.
The forest, which came to be known as the Molai forest, located near Kokilamukh of Jorhat, Assam now houses Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, and over 100 deer and rabbits. Molai forest is also home to monkeys and several varieties of birds, including a large number of vultures. There are several thousand trees, including Valcol, Arjun (Terminalia arjuna), Ajar (Lagerstroemia speciosa), Goldmohur (Delonix regia), koroi (Albizia procera), Moj (Archidendron bigeminum) and Himolu (Bombax ceiba). Bamboo covers an area of over 300 hectares.
Jadav’s story began in 1979 when he was working for a social forestry division of Golaghat district in Assam where he put all his efforts towards afforesting his surroundings. After the project ended everyone left, but he chose to stay back. He continued to plant saplings of plants, trees and bamboos, and over time his efforts where rewarded. The afforestation of the area not only stopped soil erosion but also turned into a shelter for the wildlife that frequented the area. over time the plants and trees grew and the foliage became thicker darker and greener.
Soon herd of 100 elephants began visiting the forest and would stay there for six months, every year and it was only in 2008, his efforts came into the knowledge of the authorities when forest department was monitoring a herd of 115 elephants that had retreated into the forest after damaging property in a nearby village. They were surprised seeing the lush green forest and since then they regularly visit the forest.
Soon after the discovery of his forest Jadav was honoured by several institutions for his solo efforts. The vice-chancellor of JNU Sudhir Kumar Sopory gave Jadav the title of “Forest man of India”. In 2013, he was awarded by the Indian Institute of Forest management in their annual event coalescence, and in 2015, he was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India. He has also received an honorary doctorate from Assam Agricultural University and Kaziranga University for his contributions.
Although the flourishing flora and fauna in the area have been attracting poachers, Jadav is always ready to take them on as well. He had been responsible for the arrest of several Rhino poachers.
The forest man of India has been part of several documentaries and children’s book but in the end, Molai has proved that we ought to stop pondering over the notion that climate change can only be resolved by governments. It is the responsibility of every individual across the globe, and every small effort to combat this environmental crisis will make a difference.
Also Checkout: Srinivasa Ramanujan: The man who knew infinity
Leave a Reply