The Story of Jadav Payeng- The Man Who Planted An Entire Forest

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Jadav Payeng

The Story of Jadav Payeng- The Man Who Planted An Entire Forest

Posted by: Mayukh Category: Inspiring People Tags: , , , Comments: 0

The Story of Jadav Payeng- The Man Who Planted An Entire Forest

Jadav Payeng

We live in times of great climate crisis. And while some of us may simply go on the internet and shout abuses at all and sundry, many are actually trying to bring a change from the ground level. There are some like Jadav Payeng- who would take it upon themselves to make sure that we are surrounded by forests, no matter what. His efforts to build a forest over the last three decades have led to the afforestation of Molai Kathoni forest in Assam, India. A single man who strived to render greenery over a 550-hectare space. The Molai Kathoni forest is located in the Majuli island, which was about to go through both soil erosion and water submersion. It was feared in the 1980s that the island would shrink unless the government did something about it. And they did- a plan to afforest around 200 hectares of the land was developed. But as it goes with bureaucracy, the plan got derailed. From 1983 onwards, it has been one single human giving up on everything he considers dear, all because he wants the ecosystem to survive. That man was Jadav Payeng.

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Jadav Payeng

Source: Jadav Payeng: The Forest Man of India/Facebook

In order to follow through on the idea of afforestation, he decided to plant bamboo trees. After that, he moved on to other tree species. It is only due to Jadav Payeng’s dedication that the area is now filled with both flora and fauna. Royal Bengal Tigers, countless rhinoceros, elephants and many other species of animals have found a home in that forest. There are several trees populating this region like Arjun, Pride of India, Cotton trees and silk. It is interesting to note that the government got whiff of Jadav Payeng’s endeavors because a band of elephants decided to make the forest their home. And this happened in 2008, almost 35 years after Payeng started the Herculean task. In recognition of his efforts, the government decided to confer him with the fourth highest civilian award in India- the Padma Shri. The Molai Kathoni forest is actually named after him- Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng.

Jadav Payeng

Source: Eyefry/Wikimedia Commons

His life has been the subject of several documentaries, movies, and children’s books. It is quite interesting to note that Jadav Payeng decided to do all this because he saw a pile of dead snakes that couldn’t survive the hot temperature all around. The hot temperature was created due to the rampant deforestation that had taken place in his area and thus, created a lack of shade. The son of a buffalo driver, Jadav, then decided to take care of the land he was living in because if he didn’t take the first step, he couldn’t really be asking someone else to.

Sometimes one has to take the first step in order to achieve what they believe is beneficial for this planet. It doesn’t matter if that one single entity is a multi-millionaire or just a lowly farmer, but one single step for mankind would work wonders. What is astounding is that Jadav Payeng did all this without the help of the government or any NGO. He didn’t need their help. Now, if the government had actually helped Jadav Payeng, the entire process would have been much faster. It wouldn’t take one single man to fight the entire system, trying to conserve an ecosystem. But isn’t that how it goes? We take things for granted only for us to later realize that we messed up big time. When things get into dire conditions, we certainly come to our senses and look for any messiah that would help us out of our problems.

Jadav Payeng forest

Source: Manamohana Holla K/Wikimedia Commons

Not just that, we also actively look for scapegoats, so that the problem can be transferred onto them easily. But there are certain individuals who put the needs of the planet before them. People like Greta Thunberg, Sunderlal Bahuguna, Jadav Payeng all are examples that it simply takes one matchstick to shine a light in the darkness. And these people know that they would only be supported if they can go on with their objective irrespective of the amount of ridicule and mockery that they have to face at the hands of others. Every environmentalist has faced it, the taunts, the outrage, the insults, the mockery, until a catastrophe came so close that people had to flock to the same environmentalist for help.

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Jadav Payeng

Source: Bijit Dutta/Wikimedia Commons

Maybe it is high time that we stop looking towards someone to come out and save us from the holes we dig ourselves into. This is the 21st century and climate change is real. Instead of expecting a 16-year-old teenager or a 50-year-old man from Assam to save us, we need to do something ourselves. If they can do it if they can decide to save a planet that we all co-exist, why can’t we? It doesn’t take a lot of money, nor does it take a sacrifice to the gods for blessings. All it needs is the drive, the zeal and the passion to work for something you believe in.

And that is exactly what Jadav Payeng did. He is now called the Forest Man of India and he has a Facebook page too.

 

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