Readers of this blog know of my keen interest in role models (clicking on this link will take you to all the role models I have posted on in this blog).
Here is yet another hero, Jadav “Molai” Payeng who planted a 1,360 acre forest pretty much by himself.
Quote from the original story in the Times of India:
It all started way back in 1979 when floods washed a large number of snakes ashore on the sandbar. One day, after the waters had receded, Payeng , only 16 then, found the place dotted with the dead reptiles. That was the turning point of his life.
"The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage . I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested," says Payeng, now 47.
Leaving his education and home, he started living on the sandbar. Unlike Robinson Crusoe, Payeng willingly accepted a life of isolation. And no, he had no Man Friday. He watered the plants morning and evening and pruned them. After a few years, the sandbar was transformed into a bamboo thicket. "I then decided to grow proper trees. I collected and planted them. I also transported red ants from my village, and was stung many times. Red ants change the soil's properties . That was an experience," Payeng says, laughing.
Soon, there were a variety of flora and fauna which burst in the sandbar, including endangered animals like the one-horned rhino and Royal Bengal tiger.
Here is the original post that kicked off my series on the role model.
Hari Om and Namaskaar until the next post
PS: The photo of a bamboo forest above is by Flickr user PhBasuma made available under a Creative Commons license.