“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
This is the story of this year’s Padma Shri Award winner – a man who single handedly created a forest from a barren land in Assam.
Back in the late 1970s, a 16 year old teenager, Jadav Molai Payeng encountered a large number of dead reptiles and a decline in the flow of migratory birds in the flood-hit Assam. He was really concerned about the decline in forest cover and deforestation. He alerted the forest department about the same but found himself helpless. This was the turning point of his life which motivated him into forest conservation.
He then started working in the forest through a tree plantation scheme launched by the forest authorities in Jorhat district. Soon after the project was over, when the other workers left, he decided to stay back with an intent to transform the barren land into a thick green forest.
Payeng left everything, accepted a life of isolation and started planting trees off everyone’s radar for almost 30 years. He didn’t get any support or backing from anybody and did all on his own. His hardwork yielded fruitful results and soon the washed out area got transformed into a 1360 acre dense forest.
The forest, named Molai after him, is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. One-horned rhinos, Royal Bengal tigers, elephants, deers, rabbits, vultures and many other migratory birds are few of the many species found here.
His efforts came into limelight in 2008 when the forest department officials visited the place after receiving complaints from the nearby villages about a herd of elephants destroying the properties of villagers. The officials were astonished when they got to know about Payeng and his densely thick forest. Once, a group of poachers were about to kill the single horned rhinos but failed in their attempt since Payeng informed about the same to the forest department officials.
53 year old Peyang lives in a hut in the forest along with his wife and three children. He has a cattle and buffalo and sells milk for his livelihood which is the only source of income for him. He was recently honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civillian award. He is also called as the “Forest Man of India.”
This is not the end for Payeng as he wants to carry out similar ventures in other parts of Assam too. He believes that forests are important terrestrial ecosystems and human survival depends on the health of the ecosystem. He is a critic of the urban development which affects the cycles in the forest ecosystems.
Peyang sacrificed his home, belongings, education and other pleasures to save the environment and the ecosystem. The lifestyle he chose was not one to be lived and tolerated by an ordinary person. Most importantly, he did everything without expecting any favour in return.
Jadav “Molai” Payeng is a perfect example of how willpower and determination can help you win the battle single handedly. His story is really inspiring and motivational. He is an ordinary man with an extraordinary feat. He deserves everything that would make him known to every Indian. He is just above all the awards and recognitions; he is immortal.
The world is in need of many such heavenly messengers who are trying to make the earth a better place to live for one and all.
Post by: Vivek Swamy