This is a story of the world’s largest river island, MAJULI, along the banks of one of the largest rivers in India, the Brahmaputra, and the forest man of India. Majuli is home to around 150 thousand people.
This river island has been a victim of Land erosion since 1917 and has lost more than half of its landmass and counting.
To protect this Island the Assam Forestry Division of Golaghat district began a plan to reforest 200 hectares of the forest in one of the sandbars of the Brahmaputra River in the year 1980. But it was abandoned in 1983 due to unknown reasons.
Later in 1979, Jadav Payeng, a farmer, took up this challenge and in 30 years has changed the face of the island. He alone planted trees creating a man-made forest of 550 hectares.
The Mulai Forest Reserve
Jadav Payeng, a local environmental activist and forestry worker, a Padma Shri awardee was born in Assam in 1963, to a farmer family. At a very tender age of 16 years, he started to plant trees in the Majuli Islands and has been doing so since then.
In 1979, the Brahmaputra river flooded due to the monsoon rains. It washed away many animals, reptiles, and eroded the land nearby. This scene disturbedJadav Payeng. He approached the tribals nearby to ask for a solution and they advised him to plant more trees, bamboo in particular and also gave him 25 saplings and some other seeds to plant.
Obsessed by his vision, Jadav Payeng (Nickname: Mulai ) stopped schooling and took up Afforestation as a full-time passion. At the age of 42, he married and now has two sons and a daughter. He makes a living by selling cow and buffalo milk in the nearby community.
What started as a childhood desire has become my motto to LIVE!!!
He works in the forest 3 months a year by planting the seeds and then leaves it to the monsoons to do its work. The rest of the year he collects seeds and safeguards the forest and makes sure trees are not chopped off.
Today, there are thousands of species of trees in the forest and has also attracted wild animals like elephant herd, Tigers, Deers, Rhinos, insect species and many other species of birds.
All this effort was carried out by Mulai alone and in fact, the local authorities came to know about this initiative only in 2008 when they heard of elephant strayed into it. Since then the elephants have been regular visitors every year to stay there for 6 months.
Nature has given so much to us, we should also try to give them something in return!!!
Awards and Recognitions
Presidents congratulated him, gave him awards, conferences invited him to speak there.
Mulai has been awarded with many awards some of them are
- 128th Commonwealth Points of Light award, which includes a certificate signed by Queen Elizabeth II
- He was named the “Forest Man of India” at an event in Indian Institute of Forest Management in the month of October 2013
- He was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India in 2015
- Karmayogi Award in 2020
- Nominated for CNN Hero 2015
His next goal is to write a book on “How to Plant Trees” because he and his friend believe
Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/Theforestmanofindia
If we educate kids on the importance of nature from a very young age we can fix today’s problems.