India is no different from other countries, human encroachment has destroyed some its natural beauty. However, in spite of men’s wanton disregard of earth’s natural beauty India has a lush place that is truly special and unique. The abundant forest found in the state of Assam is the only one of its kind — created by a single man
Jadav Payeng, also known as the iconic The Forest Man of India, has an empathetic heart that inspired him to plant trees on the sandbar of the river Brahmaputra. Now, the sandbar boasts a 550 hectares of lush forest which they call as The Molai Forest.
According to the environmental activist, he was 16 years old when he crossed path with a bunch of dead snakes piled on the sandbar. Since there were barely any trees in the sandbar, the snakes died under the merciless heat from the sun.
“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested,” Jadav shared in an interview, grieving for the snake.
Jadav who was young back then couldn’t help but put himself in the situation of the snakes. He knew that human or not, no living being deserves to suffer from such cruel death.
“When I saw it, I thought even we humans will have to die this way in the heat. It struck me. In the grief of those dead snakes, I created this forest.” Jadav explained, sharing what motivated him to create the forest we know now as The Molai Forest.
Since that fateful day, Jadav felt responsible for the life of others. He knew that something must be done and so almost everyday for 37 years, Jadav religiously planted seeds and trees.
After some time, the Molai forest grew and developed. The bare sandbar can no longer be seen anymore. In its place stand a stunning and breathtaking man-made forest which is now the home of Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, hers of deer, rabbits, birds, and elephants. And for the first time in 40 years, Vultures have returned as well.!
Due to his invaluable contribution, not only to his country but to the rest of the world, Jadav was honored by the Indian government with the Padma Shri award. In Indian culture, it is the fourth highest civilian award which is very prestigious.
“I will continue to plant until my last breath,” Jadav said, declaring his lifetime mission.
Rather than merely calling the planet Earth as our home, we must start treating it as one. Instead of destroying it, we must do everything we can to take care of it. After all, if Jadav was able to plant a vast forest single-handedly, imagine what more WE can do?
Watch the video below and learn more how such great man as Jadav Payeng was able to make a big difference in our environment. Truly, for a man with a compassionate heart and strong dedication, nothing is impossible, not even transforming a bare sandbar into an abundant and green forest!
Photos and Video | National Geographic