Tuesday, February 27, 2024

‘Forest authority gave me the title ‘Forest Man of India’, but more work needs to be done’

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The recently announced Sony BBC Earth’s Earth Champions recently featured Padma Shri awardee Jadav Payeng, known as the ‘Forest Man of India’. The Pioneer in an exclusive chat interacted with him, who spoke of his community, being titled as the ‘Forest Man of India’, and more.

SHIKHA DUGGAL
With great pleasure, Sony BBC Earth announced the return of its eagerly anticipated show, Earth Champions. Previously, in an Instagram live session, it honored and emphasized people’s efforts to make a difference and their contributions to the environment. The format has changed, though, and it will now be a riveting three-minute capsule that shares information about the Earth Champion and his or her body of work while taking viewers on a captivating trip.
“I have always loved trees, jungles, and plantations, which is why I am working on this project. For myself, not for anyone else. My village in Jorhat, Assam, is Kokilamukh. When I leave my house for work in the morning, I ride a boat over a brief river stretch. There are about 250   mising tribe families living along the riverbanks,” according to Jadav Payeng.
Earth Champions, which was first envisioned as a digital project, will receive a lot of airtime and social media exposure. The inspirational man of the hour, known as the ‘Forest Man of India’ also and the winner of the esteemed Padma Shri award, is featured in the first episode of Earth Champions. Over a number of decades, Payeng committed himself to planting a tree in the state of Assam on desolate terrain each day. He went on, “Only the bounds of the forest are inhabited by our missing tribe. These tribes work and cook inside the boundaries of the forest. The missing community of Assam, along with other tribes and communities, adore trees and are committed to planting more, growing plantations, and maintaining the forest. Every single member of the community has planted trees. Additionally, I have planted. Setting up the right environment is our responsibility for all the animals and birds. Roles, religion, seniority, authority, and other things, in my opinion, come below. The ecosystem and forest come first. I firmly believe it, and I try to instill it in everyone around me as well as the next generation.”
With all of this in mind, his one and only objective is to make India greener than it has ever been. But he couldn’t accomplish this on his own; he needed the backing of his fellow villagers and his people. They are all devoted to promoting the value of plantations and maintaining a clean, green environment. If just his people and he work towards it, it still won’t work. To finish this task, people from all around India and the world must put in effort. And he is committed to inspiring young people and others to follow suit.
“I received the title from the forest authority, which is fine, but more work needs to be done. In addition, I recall that APJ Abdul Kalam sir, who was likewise incredibly modest, grasped my hand, handed me 60 kg of diamonds and lakhs of rupees, and advised me to keep up the good work. Additionally, he wanted this knowledge to be taught in institutions and schools, three days following my trip to France,” he revealed.
The environmental activist has been doing this since he was a little child, or rather, he was just sixteen years old.
“In 1979, I began planting. And we were startled by an odd sight: over a hundred dead snakes heaped on sand in sweltering heat, having died for lack of cover from trees or shade. Observing such, I thought that even people might perish in this circumstance. Seeing so many snakes perish made me very sad. So, my goal is to plan an increasing number of trees, and in order to make this earth greener, I must take initiative and put in more effort to plant trees,” added the interviewee.
Payeng, who was 19 at the time, came upon a lot of dead snakes in 1979 after floodwaters carried them onto the barren sandbar. The snakes had perished from too much heat. At that point, he covered the sandbar with about 20 bamboo seedlings. In an attempt to turn the area into a forest, he not only took care of the plants but also kept planting new trees by himself. The forest, which gained the name Molai Forest, is currently home to more than 100 deer and rabbits, as well as Bengal tigers and Indian rhinoceros. In addition, monkeys and a variety of birds, including a high number of vultures, can be found in the the same forest. Valcol, is among the several thousand trees that may be found there. Over 300 hectares are covered in bamboo!
When Molai warned department officials, poachers attempted to murder the rhinos that were still living in the jungle in 2013, but they were unsuccessful. Authorities quickly confiscated a number of items that the poachers had been using to capture the animals. “The publicity began in 2017. Yes, my tribe and the other villages have benefited since I have gained fame. They are now frugal. They work for pay and engage in local forest-related businesses. I am aware that I am viewed as an activist by some. They understand how important it is to preserve the forest and how not to trespass against its manners. Not to do any destruction there! They are fully aware of the forest. There is no nation that I have seen that loves their land as much as Indians do. Our first priority is Dharti Maa. I recall that Dharti Maa had a temperature. Furthermore, how can we continue to be healthy and well when the entire land is ill? Thus, we ought to be mindful of the Dharti Maa’s health at all times. If she’s okay, then so are we. Teaching everyone to love Dharti Maa is my responsibility. I make it a point to instill a love of nature in all of my students and children.
He thinks planting trees is not enough; you also need to give each tree a name, understand its characteristics, and take care of it. Take care of and feed them appropriately. That’s when you perform correctly.

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