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Summary of Jadav Payeng Life | Forest Man of India | North East India Info

Jadav Payeng, known as the Forest Man of India spent 30 years of his life planting trees to save his island, creating a forest and restoring wildlife in it. The forest, called Molai forest after him, is located near Kokilamukh of Jorhat, Assam, India and encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres / 550 hectares. 

Padma Shri Jadav Payeng
Padma Shri Jadav Payeng

About Jadav Payeng

In 1979, Payeng, then 16, encountered a large number of snakes that had died due to excessive heat after floods washed them onto the tree-less sandbar. That is when he planted around 20 bamboo seedlings on the sandbar. 

He started working on the forest in 1979 when the social forestry division of Golaghat district launched a scheme of tree plantation on 200 hectares at Aruna Chapori situated at a distance of 5 km from Kokilamukh in Jorhat district. Molai was one of the laborers who worked in that project which was completed after five years. 

He chose to stay back after the completion of the project even after other workers left. He not only looked after the plants but continued to plant more trees on his own, in an effort to transform the area into a forest. 

The forest, known in Assamese as 'Mulai Kathoni' or Mulai forest, houses around four tigers, three rhinoceros, over a hundred deer and rabbits besides apes and innumerable varieties of birds, including a large number of vultures. 

It has several thousand trees among which are valcol, arjun, ejar, goldmohur, koroi, moj and himolu. There are bamboo trees too covering an area of over 300 hectares. 

A herd of around 100 elephants regularly visit the forest every year and generally stay for around six months. They also gave birth to 10 calves in the forest in recent times. 

Mulai’s efforts caught attention of the forest department only during 2008 when a team of forest officials went to the area in search of a herd of 115 elephants that sneaked into the forest after damaging the property of villagers at Aruna chapori, around 1.5 km from the forest.

 “The officials were surprised to see such a large and dense forest and since then the department is showing interest on conservation with a regular visit to the site,” Mulai said. 

Mulai, an avid nature lover, has constructed a small house in the vicinity of the reserve and stays with his family which comprises wife, two sons and a daughter. He earns his living by selling milk of cows and buffaloes he has kept. Mulai has one regret, though. 

The state government has so far not provided any financial assistance to him to carry out his 'mission' except for the Forest Department which from time to time supplies him saplings for plantation.

Jadav Payeng Awards 

In 2015, he was honored with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India. He was born in the indigenous Mising tribe of Assam. He was honored with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India. He received an honorary doctorate degree from Assam Agricultural University and Kaziranga University for his contributions.

Assam Government Ignorance

Maharashtra Class X Environmental Science textbook mentions Payeng in the context of the environment. The mentioned content comprises of his life experiences and contribution under the heading 'The big story of a small man.' This is a good initiative taken by the Maharashtra government to teach the young generation about the environment, its conservation and sustainability of the environment by a real story. 

Maharashtra Class X Environmental Science
Class X Environmental Science textbook

It is also noticed that there is a misinterpretation in the textbook description of ‘Forest Man of India’ Jadav Payeng, has decided to write to the Maharashtra government seeking an immediate correction of the information provided in the texts. It is seen that the textbook has mentioned Jadav Payeng as a member of a nomadic tribe which is certainly wrong information about him. 

But that error can be correct at the same time Assam government who totally ignore this initiative to teach young generation of Assam and did not add any chapter about his environmental works and his environmental ethics. Apart from this he also said in his interviews that the state government has so far not provided any financial assistance to him to carry out his 'mission' except for the Forest Department which from time to time supplies him saplings for plantation.


Photo Courtesy
By President's Secretariat (GODL-India), GODL-India, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72015397

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