It all began with the Brahmaputra floods of 1979. The floods brought a huge number of snakes on the banks and the sandbars near the banks. Jadav Payeng was a 16 year old teenage boy back then, he found those snakes and all of them were dead.
“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms,” Payeng
“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,” he told in an interview recently.
However now the same area is a dense forest sprawling 1,360 acre. The forest boast of rich flora and fauna; it has some rare trees and many animals like rhino, elephants and tigers. He created this forest out of a barren land with his sheer hard work and focus. He has dedicated 30 years of his life (he still continues) to the upkeep of the forest. He is 47 now and lives in a hut in the midst of forest with his wife Binita and three children. He has a dairy farm next to his hut with cows and buffaloes and sell the milk for a livelihood. He had lost nearly 100 buffaloes and cows to tigers of the forest. Wild elephants have also damaged his house several times. However, Jadav Payeng is not feeling bad for it and says that the people who carry out large scale encroachment and destruction of forests are the root cause of the plight of wild animals, leading to the loss of their habitat and making them to prey on domestic animals.
His forest is aptly called as “Molai Forest” as people address him as Molai. It is now the world’s biggest forest in the middle of a river. He is now getting some awards and recognition, however the need of the hour is to educate youngsters and kids about this man and what he has done for the country and for the world without getting any help from anyone. We all (including me) crib about how the system and society is so bad that we cannot do any good to the world. We complain about the authorities, the politicians, the bureaucracy and everything around for our inability to achieve something worthwhile. We can all take inspiration from what Jadav has done.