India’s forest man finds a place in US curriculum

Jadav Payeng, who is known as India’s Forest Man, has dedicated almost all this entire life, about 42 years, for preserving Molai woods, a forested area spread over 500 hectares along a barren sandbar of Majuli in Assam. His dedication for protecting the forest has now found him a place in the school curriculum in the United States.

The story of 57 year old padma Shree awardee paying has found in the curriculum of sixth graders in Bristol Connecticut school. With the introduction of his life and his efforts in preserving the forest, the students will learn about the importance of conserving the environment.

A teacher at the School was quoted in the media as saying that one of the reasons for incorporating Jadav’s story in the curriculum was to encourage and inspire the children on how a single person can make a huge positive impact in the world.

Soon after the news came out, Assam Chief Minister congratulated Jadav. In a tweet, he said that inclusion of the ‘Forest Man of India’ in the curriculum of an American educational institution reflected his global reputation. Noting that it was a proud moment for the state, the chief Minister requested everyone to take inspiration from his work and to strive to protect and conserve the environment and biodiversity.

It was in 1979 that Payeng got attracted to forest. At the age of 16, he came across a large number of snakes that had died due to excessive heat after floods washed them onto sandbar. He then started to plant bamboo seedlings on the sandbar. He then went to work with the social forestry division of Golaghat district when they launched a scheme of tree plantation on 200 hectares at Aruna Chapori in Jorhat district. The project was completed in five years. Though other workers left the place, he stayed back. He not only looked after the plants, but planted more trees on his own.

The forest that he has grown now came to be called Molai forest. It now houses Bengal rigers, deer, rabbits, Indian Rhinoceros, monkeys and  birds.

Jadav belongs to the Mising tribe. He lives in a small hut in the forest. His wife Binita and three children stay with him in the forest.

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