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Apr 12, 2013 at 08:33pm IST

Assam: Green warrior Jadab Payeng plants trees at isolated sand bar

Jorhat: Green warrior Jadab Payeng never forgot the devastating Assam floods of 1979. For three decades, Jadab Payeng has been instrumental in planting trees nurturing a 1,000 hectare forest in a Brahmaputra sand bar.

For the past thirty three years of his life, he has been crossing this river, walking along the sand bars and planting trees and even talking to them like there was no tomorrow. Three decades of passion have given rise to a forest in the Jorhat district of Assam, at an isolated sandbar of the Bramhaputra river near Kokilamukh. Out of love and affection for Jadab, everybody calls it the Mulai forest.

"Tree is at the root of human life. If you have trees, you can save the planet and then you can save animals. The future has to be green," Jadab said.

Jadab's story began in 1979 during the devastating floods in Assam. He shows us how about 100 dead snakes had been swept to the shore and how all of them died in the heat and in the absence of trees. That left a deep mark on the then 16-year-old Jadab.

In 1980, he took up a scheme of the Assam Forestry Division to reforest two hundred hectares of a Bramhaputra sandbar. Since then there has been no turning back. The 200 hectares are turned into 1,000 hectares of a green forest. The forest houses over a hundred deer and rabbits besides innumerable varieties of birds, including a large number of rare vultures. A herd of around 100 elephants visits the forest every year.

The people of the village are delighted. But the journey has not been easy. In the early years when a of herd elephants attacked the villages, many decided it was Jadab who was responsible for the mess. Jadab fought singlehandedly. He approached the forest department for protection.

Behind Jadab is his family who lives in a small hut by the forest. His wife is proud, but says it is difficult every time Jadab is away. As he laughs, talks to villagers and spreads awareness, one knows the forests are in safe hands.