This real-world hero, ‘Forest Man' has done all the action by growing an entire forest in the Jorhat district of Assam.
In 1979, a young 16-year-old native of Majuli island, Assam, started planting a sapling every day and looking after them. What started as an innocent practice has now created an entire forest cover with an area equal to the size of 15 football fields. That is exactly what happens when an individual takes action. This man is no one other than Padma Shri recipient Jadhav' Molai' Payeng – The forest man of India. He has turned a vast area of 1360 acres of barren land into a lively and lush forest area.
What sparked this dedication in Jadhav Payeng?
Jadav Molai Payeng lived on flood-prone banks of the Brahmaputra River. Once, returning from his school, he noticed several dead snakes washed ashore due to a recent flood. He came to the realization that the snakes had no place to hide in the scorching heat amidst the barren land. This incident was enough to spark a flame of action inside him. On discussing the issue with his villagers, he was advised to plant bamboo and contact the forest department for the same. Starting with bamboo saplings, Jadhav moved on to other plant species and planted them, too.
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Jadhav's baby steps in envisioning a lush green forest cover
After the abovementioned incident, Jadhav left his school and started planting bamboo saplings. Around the same time, Golaghat's (a district in the state) social forestry office started a 5-year tree-planting initiative to prevent soil erosion and floods. The initiative took place at a 200 hectares piece of land at Aruna Chapori. Jadhav agreed to work on it and continued even after it was over, and the other workers left.
The fruits of Jadhav's labour
After 40 years of continuous hard work, Jadhav's vision of seeing the sandbar once destroyed by the flood as a lush tropical woodland turned into a reality. The name of the forest that Jadhav created is "Molai Kathoni," after him, to honor his environmental activism. This forest is home to a large number of plants, animals, and birds, where they thrive.
What is Jadhav doing now?
Payeng, now aged 63, has devoted his life to Mother Earth and the upkeep of the forest he created. He lives in the forest he created with his wife and children. In his own words, "I'll plant till my last breath." Isn't the willpower of this man amazing? The battle he fought and won for the betterment of the environment and so this World Environment Day, let's take some time to plant a sapling and maintain it just like Jadhav!