Concrete concrete everywhere, Not a sapling in sight! Pardon my attempt at putting today’s environmental reality into words….but the grim reality is this. While the greens are being razed in the name of development, the devastating after effects of it have been over looked since time immemorial, the detriments being experienced in the present. But amidst of all this, their are a few who, instead of grinning and bearing it, have taken upon the task of taking effective action to preserve the natural beauty of the Earth.
One samaritan, Jadav Payeng, an Assamese man also known as the ‘Forest Man of India’, single-handedly created a heaven out of barren land. Almost three decades ago, a teenager, after noticing the deaths of a large number of reptiles due to a lack of a tree cover, started planting Bamboo in an area that had been washed away by floods. He was 16 when the flood hit Assam, and Payeng observed that the flow of migratory birds was gradually declining to the forest areas and wetlands near his home and snakes were disappearing in large numbers. This disturbed him.
His alerts to the forest department, fell on deaf ears and instead he was asked to plant trees himself!…. He located a riverine island, on the banks of River Brahmaputra, and began to plant the saplings. Payeng visited the island and planted a few saplings every day for three decades. But the challenges were aplenty. The area, being too vast for a single man to water every sapling, he built a bamboo platform on the top of each sapling and placed earthen pots with small holes in them. The water would gradually drip on the plants below and water them through the week until the pots were drained of water.
in 1980, he started working with the social forestry division of Golaghat district when they launched a scheme of tree plantation on 200 hectares at Aruna Chapori. Jadav was one of the few who worked on the project for 5 years. Staying back after the completion of the project, he looked after the plants and continued to plant more trees on his own, in an effort to transform the area into a forest.
Today, the forest he named Mulai Kathon covers an extraordinary 1,360 acres….now, home to Bengal tigers, rhinoceroses and vultures as well as 115 elephants.
A one army that resolutely stood his ground, his brimming passion pushing him to fight illegal threats as poachers and loggers….Jadav Payeng, was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India….covered by several national and international domains and documentaries, he must be our claim to fame!
Verdict…..Never challenge anyone with passion in heart and the resolve to live by it!