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Padma Shri Jadav “Molai” Payeng – The Forest Man Of India

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In 1979, Molai Payeng happened to see a giant sandbar  river island  in the island of Brahmaputra River a home to some 150,000 people. He happened to see the reptiles dying,birds migration due to no trees and floods causing the land erosion. Now it is  the location of the 1,360 acre Molai Forest, one of the most unusual woodlands in the world for the incredible fact that it was planted by a single man. Since 1979, forestry worker Jadav Paying has dedicated his life to planting trees on the island, creating a forest which became the home to Bengal Tigers,Elephants,Indian Rhinos,Deers and Rabbits including home for several bird species. Gives you more than a little hope for the world.


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 in Johrat district . Molai was one of the labourers who worked in that project which was completed after five years.  After the project was completed , every one left . But Molai Payeng  chose to stay back after the completion of the project . 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.

A herd of around 100 elephants regularly visits the forest every year and generally stay for around six months. They have given birth to 10 calves in the forest in recent years.

His efforts became known to the authorities in 2008, when forest department officials went to the area in search of a herd of 115 elephants that had retreated into the forest after damaging property in the village of Aruna Chapori, which is about 1.5 km from the forest. The officials were surprised to see such a large and dense forest and since then the department has regularly visited the site.

A few years back, poachers tried to kill the rhinos staying in the forest but failed in their attempt due to Molai who alerted department officials. Officials promptly seized various articles used by the poachers to trap the animals.

Molai is ready to manage the forest in a better way and to go to other places of the state to start a similar venture. Now his aim is to spread his forest to another sand bar inside of Brahmaputra . Molai was honoured with Padma Sri by Government of India.


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