Jadav Payeng - The man who grew a forest

All of us know about the importance of forests but seldom do we do anything to actually save forests. A 16-year old in Assam in the year 1979 started an initiative which later helped him to earn the title 'Forest man of Assam'. Read on to know about this amazing person.

Man despite all his achievements and his great progress, often forgets that he is still only a part of the grand scheme of nature. In his pursuit of material prosperity, he does not care about what happens to his environment. The result is out for all of us to see. Environmental degradation has led to such huge problems that the very existence of the human race is at stake.

You are never too insignificant to make a change

We often have the impression that we cannot do anything as individuals. Environmental degradation is often looked upon as a 'macro-level' problem which should be solved through lengthy negotiations and complex-looking treaties between big and powerful world leaders. While this is certainly true up to some extent, it is also true that we as individuals can make changes in their own ways and contribute in tiny bits to save this world. Just think about it. Environmental protection is a problem which was created by the combined efforts of individuals. Therefore the combined efforts of individuals should be enough to solve this big problem.

The amazing milkman

In the state of Assam, decades-long efforts by one person and his family have shown the power of an individual to change the current state of affairs. Meet Jadav Payeng, a person who sells milk for a profession and grows trees for a passion. In fact, this passion has taken the form of an obsession. It all started in 1979 when Payeng witnessed the mass death of snakes on a sandbar due to lack of vegetation cover and excessive heat. Payeng, then a grief-stricken 16-year old, decided to do something to prevent such tragedies in the future. He decided to forsake his education and his home to grow trees on the barren sandbar.

Initially, neither his tribe members (Payeng belongs to the Missing tribe, the second largest tribe in the North-East after the Bodos) nor the Forest Department was very enthusiastic about the proposal. On the barren sandbar, where everyone said that nothing would grow, Payeng managed to grow 20 bamboo seedlings. He even transported red ants to the sandbar as these insects are believed to increase soil fertility. Slowly but surely the forest began to grow. Payeng also began to grow other varieties of trees. Some other trees were propagated naturally through wind and water dispersal.


Now the sandbar is an actual forest with rhinos, elephants and even tigers. But the journey has not been without conflicts. When giant mammals like elephants begin to live alongside humans, the situation does become tense. During one such incident when the pachyderms trampled upon the nearby villages, the angry villagers rushed to cut Payeng's forest. Payeng heroically defended his forest. Although recognition and awards have apparently calmed down the villagers, the fragile peace may not last long.

The entire forest, which measures over 1300 acres, is the result of Payeng and his family's efforts. The State Forest Department has often been of no use in this effort. In fact, it learned of the existence of the man-made forest only in 2008. Awards and accolades quickly followed after the media learned of his efforts. He was honored at a function in JNU and then in 2015, he received the prestigious Padma Shri.

Payeng's dogma

But does this semi-literate man, who has only completed his tenth standard from a local school in interior village care about such recognition? From the various interviews which he has given to various news agencies and magazines, apparently his one creed, or in fact his dogma is to spread greenery. And his actions prove it too. He has now started an ambitious project of spreading the green cover on a stretch of an area around the Kaziranga National Park. Here is one man who sees god in nature, someone who does not believe in writing impressive articles or giving speeches on 'Saving the Environment' but someone who works and achieves the impossible.


Author: Umesh19 Mar 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 4

We feel proud of our citizens when we read about such persons. It appears unbelievable but true.

Near our society, there is an open playground and the land belongs to the Govt. The playground was in a shabby condition and people used to throw garbage in it.

Some senior citizens from nearby societies went to the civic body and requested to make a fencing and a walking track around the periphery of the land. After a lot of persuasions, the civic body did some basic work and then showed their inability to do anything in the name of budget or things like that.

The senior citizens themselves took the things in their hand and in the last two years the situation of the playground has drastically improved.

Now there are a number of plants planted in this place and people are coming for morning or evening walks.

Many people are motivated and coming here to water the plants. I salute these people who take initiatives and then inspire others to follow them.

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