Jadav Payeng was determined to develop dense greenery in his area as which was affected by deforestation. He belongs to Mising tribe living at the bank of river Brahmaputra, near Majuli. Due to deforestation, the floods and droughts of their area was destroying the wild and human life.
His intense dedication to the unbelievable achievement according to him was due to his love for forests, trees, birds, and animals. During his childhood, he had seen his area was covered with greenery even after independence the first railway track from Bangladesh-Kolkata-Assam trailed the bank of the Brahmaputra.
Man of Forest, Jadav Payeng Inspiration his learning and skills
It was not possible to improve his planting skills unless he met a botanist in his village from primary school. He learned and practiced about the plants, which also inspired him to chase his dreams. After learning the techniques and skills, the forest man was able to speed up the planting processes of the forest.
Jadav Payeng and his tribe experienced the worst season of drought in 1989 that the river dried up to 10 km. He was shattered by the difficult time that the villagers, animals, and the forest had faced in the year. Payeng said, “ It was in 1989 that he saw the death of many snakes at the river bank”. This brought a revolutionary thought to his mind.
Payeng also said that during the British rule, his place was covered with dense forest and wild animals. After 1965, Majuli its Rajghat was severely destroyed due to the cutting of the plants and forests. At the age of 14 or 15 years, this major drought gave him a reason to work for the environment.
The reforestation initiative and contribution of Payeng were unknown to the world until the media has approached them. He said, “ I’m thankful to the media who traveled 18 km to meet him and observe the reforestation”. Payeng also stated that he had mistaken the team as outsiders but later came to know about the media team.
India Times article led to the popularity of his contribution
According to Payeng, the first published article in India Times was a milestone for him. They honored him with a certificate, a Gamocha, and 500 rupees in 2012. All assured him to provide complete support to him for the noble cause. The team took two years to study the place and the project of reforestation led by Jadav Payeng.
They also had spoken to the forest department and investigated the unimaginable growth of the forest. The department ensured about the reforestation work was completely on his initiative. It was after the publication that Jadav Payeng slowly started to gain recognition both nationally and internationally.
Studies and research were carried out by the Jawaharlal Nehru University for almost three days. After a complete research on the forest near the bank of Brahmaputra, followed by the information from the published article Jadav Payeng was honored as “Man of the forest”.
His attachment towards the creation of the forest was deep and this was the reason when he was out for his first seminar as the man of the forest tears dropped from his eyes. He stated that “I was missing my kids, they are plants, animals, birds, and the entire forest. I cannot see them for more than one week. This is the reason there are tears in my eyes”.
Support was extended by NGOs
After returning from the seminar held at the capital of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad and his NGO supported with lakhs as an award for his noble deed of reforestation. Followed by the award he was then invited by France for the Global conference, almost after three days. Scientists from different countries participated in the conference, he stated that “it was a memorable moment when he was honored for reforestation and his name was paneled as “forest scientist”.
Then Jadav Payeng returned to India, it was then declared that from 1974 there was an improvement in the forest density and flow of river water. A few years later, environment day was introduced in 1974 on June 5th. It was now celebrated every year by colleges, universities, government, and non-government sectors.
Jadav also said that “If the reforestation initiative would not have been taken 42 years before then the changes and development to the environment was not possible”. He also shared his thoughts regarding the future development of the environment and greater greenery.
He said, “Environmental studies should begin from the early ages of the schools”. This will help in improving the knowledge of planting and growing trees. Planting one plant and helping it to grow within five years will allow him to inhale oxygen from the same tree.
He also said a green environment in the future exists in planting and growing trees by children each year.
Mode of Earning at the beginning of Jadav Payeng journey
Not at all, it was easy to grow plants; he started by planting 50 bamboos at the age of 14. There was less monetary support till he achieved honor and recognition. Their mode of earning was through farming and agriculture.
Jadav Payeng the man of the forest has been growing trees for years. Planting plants in the proper season so that they can receive the proper rainwater and grow effectively. Having years of intense study on the weather condition specifically for the forest area that suffers floods during the monsoons. He confirmed a difference of five months in arrival monsoon between Assam and other parts of India.
Padma Shri Award and Support from other NGOs
Jadav Payeng was awarded the Padma Shri Award in 2015, as the fourth civilian award. As it is not under the forest department he independently looks after the forests and their wildlife. He has received help and support from different NGOs who help the animals with food and for plants.