It is said that God itself dwells in the form of nature in north of India. Its fascination and captivations mesmerises not only India but also the whole world. Most importantly, it has more oriental, strengthenin and overpowering physical features. But it’s antipole says, north-eastern areas are somehow excluded or mocked down, compared to southern and central parts of India. Echoing the north-Indian trappings, I suddendly conjured up an extravagant memoir. A memoir which fortifies and intensifies Assam and even makes people realise that north-eastern forests are not once in a blue moon anymore.
It all talks about an environmental activist and a forestry worker from Johrat, Assam. Jadav Payeng, belonging to the Mishing tribe of Assam, lives with his wife and three children, owns cattle and buffalo on his farm and sells milk, which is the only source of income for his livelihood.
Jadav, in his age of 16, confronted a large number of dead snakes and reptiles which died due to excessive heat after floods washed them onto the tree-less sandbar. This disrupted him a lot. “I asked my elders, what would they do if all of us die one day, like these snakes. They just laughed and smirked but I knew I had to make the planet greener.” He says. All the animals of that forest lost their home and many were even killed. So the only solution left was to rebuild and copse the forest and their homes again.
The Forest Department of India, giving him a sarcastic reply, told him to grow the trees by himself. So did he. He began with locating an island in the banks of Brahmaputra river and started to plant saplings in that, which in future will result to a massive and green forest. He continued planting the saplings everyday for three decades. Watering the growing plants on daily basis, was creating the problems as it was becoming difficult to draw water from river because area was very vast, at least for a single man. As a result, he constructed a bamboo platform in each of the saplings and placed earthern pots with small holes in them. So that water would gradually drip on the plants below through the weeks, until the pots got empty. This was the magnificently smartest work to reduce the labour work and to save time.
Today this jungle of 1,360 acres is called the MOLAI FOREST, named after Jadav”Molai”Payeng. “The education should be like this, every kid should be asked to plant two trees daily.” Says Payeng. This forest is now a dwelling of Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros and over 100 deer’s and rabbits. It also habitats several varieties of birds and large number of vultures including apes. A herd of around 100 elephants regularly visits and stays in forest for 6 months every year. It even holds thousands of trees including bamboos which cover an area if about 300 hectares.
In 1980, he worked with Social Forestry division of Golaghat district, when they launched a scheme of tree plantation on 200 hectares at Aruna Chapori, situated at s distance of 5 Km from Kokilamukh in Jorhat. “My friends have become engineers and are living in the city. I have sacrificed everything and this jungle is my home now. The recognition and awards that I have received is my wealth and that makes me the happiest man in the world.”
Payeng was honoured at a Public Function arranged by the school of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University on 22nd April, 2012 for his magnificent achievement. Sudhir Kumar Sopory, JNU vice-chancellor named Jadav Poyeng as “FOREST MAN OF INDIA” in October 2013 and again was honoured at Indian Institute of Forest Management during their annual event. In 2015, he was honoured Padma Shree award, the fourth highest civilian award in India. The 2013 film documentary ’Foresting life’, directed by the Indian documentary film-maker Aarti Shrivastava, celebrates the life and works of Jadav Poyeng.
Panyeg is also the subject of the children’s book “Jadav and the tree-Place”, written and illustrated by Vinayak Varma. Don’t you think that this ’One-man army’ perfectly sets an example of humanity, keeping apart all their materialistic and luxurious happiness on one side? Not thei did he earn his name and respect, but also earned and achieved the respect of whole North- India and brought it to the another level of hard work and sacrifice.
Weak men believe in luck and circumstances, strong men believe in causes and effects. He believed in the latter.
Post by: Vidhi Shah