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Jadav Payeng – The Heroic Man Who Grew a Forest

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Who needs Superman when we have our own, daily heroes? It’s true, they don’t have as much power, but the efforts they undertake every day makes them worth mentioning… Or writing about, as it’s the case: meet Jadav Payeng – the man of the hour now in India.

He has no X-ray vision and he’s not known to lift incredible weights; but what he’s done in the last 30 years defies existence as we see it: he has grown an entire forest!

Like all great stories, his “legend” starts in 1979, when floods filled the local sandbar with snakes. Since there were no trees growing there nor a reflux to take them back, they all drew their last breath.

This acted as a shock for Payeng, then an adolescent, who ran to the forest department for help. Unfortunately, he didn’t find any – the authorities told him the soil was improper for the growing of any trees, except maybe bamboo, and folded their arms.

At this point, a regular person would have just left the whole matter drop, thinking it was the most anyone could be expected to do. But not Payeng! He left his whole life behind and moved on the sandbar to live alone. Actually… not entirely alone, because he had his trees, animals and other plants to keep him company. He followed the officials’ advice and transported bamboo trees, he planted and nurtured them and even brought red ants from his village to improve the soil.

The process was slow and needed time, but eventually things came around: flora began creeping up and all kinds of animals started living there (vultures, migratory birds, deers and cattle). This was an even bigger achievement since endangered species found a home there as well – the one-horned rhino and the Royal Bengal tiger among them.

And like in any happy-ending fairytale, the authorities (the Assam state forest department) had one of their representatives – assistant conservator of forests Gunin Saikia go check things out. It wasn’t that they came back with their tail between their legs, but the representative, amazed by Payeng’s devotion, congratulated him and also ensured some financial support.

That’s when he said “Had he been in any other country, he would have been made a hero.” So we decided to write about him, hoping to inspire others to do at least a third of the things Payeng did for his forest!

[via Times of India]

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