When was the last time you complained about warmer winters and hotter summers? What did you do about it then, other than install an air-conditioner? Here’s someone you could draw inspiration from.
Jadav Molai Payeng could be easily and lovingly called as the ‘Forest man of India’. He was 16 when he saw a crushing sight of hundreds of dying snakes on dry sandbar, in Assam. Out of impulse, he planted 20 saplings on the sandy coast of the river. This one act transformed the area into about 1,350 acres of lush green forest.
Jadav began working in the social forestry division of Golaghat district in Assam where he put all his efforts towards afforesting his surroundings. After the projects ended, he continued to stay in the area and went on planting variety of plants, trees, and bamboo saplings. This not only stopped soil erosion, but also provided shade and shelter to animals that frequented this area. This man-made forest is now called the Molai forest after Jadav.
As the saplings grew and became trees over a period of time. The foliage became thicker, darker, and greener; and life started to celebrate itself. Tigers, elephants, rhinos, snakes, deer, monkeys, birds and insects found a place to live and thrive. But then it had also started to attract poachers, who found the place full of potential for their illegal activities.
Jadav took them head on. He kept a track of their movements and informed the authorities. Many of them were arrested and their weapons were seized. His passion for the forest started to get noticed. His name started to spread far and wide. He was honoured with India’s fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Shri in 2015.
He was profusely spoken about at a function held in his honour by the Indian Institute of Forest Management. He belongs to a tribe known as mishing and lives with his wife Binita and his three children in a hut in the forest he created. His only source of income is the cattle he has. The milk derived from them he sells in the neighbouring villages.
Jadhav, in an interview, said that he has lost so many cows to the tigers in the forest, but he would still blame the large-scale deforestation for this behaviour of wildlife. He is a subject of number of documentaries and a serial for children named ‘Jadav and the tree-place’ which was a huge hit among viewers. One simple step of Jadav became a giant leap for environment.