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India’s ‘Forest Man’ Jadav Payeng is on a new mission to make Mexico greener

Padma Shri awardee Jadav Payeng, who is also known as the ‘The Forest Man of India’, is all set to undertake a mission– to make Mexico greener by replenishing its forests.

In December last year, 62-year-old Jadav Payeng signed an agreement with an NGO Fundacion Azteca, to collaborate on environmental projects in Mexico which aims to plant 7 million trees in the North American country.

Jadav Payeng, who is also popularly known as Molai Payeng, earned his name as ‘The Forest Man of India’ by spending 30 years of his life planting around 40 million trees to create a real man-made forest by changing a barren sandbar of the Brahmaputra, covering an area of 550 hectares of land which is known as ‘Molai Kathoni’.

The forest Molai Kathoni, located near Kokilamukh in Assam’s Jorhat district, is now the home to tigers, elephant herds, deer, rabbits and a wide diversity of native and migratory species and thousands of trees.

READ: ‘He’ built a 1360 acre forest from an eroded land: Meet the forest man of India

Jadav Payeng said the initiative is a massive plantation project involving eight lakh hectares of land in Mexico.

Mexico grants 10 year visa to Payeng

The Mexican government has granted a 10-year visa to Jadav Payeng and he is slated to travel to the country in September this year.

“The Mexico government has provided me visa for 10 years. I shall be in Mexico for three months every year — September, October and November — That time is suitable to plant trees in Mexico. I will have to involve myself with one lakh students per day for the massive plantation drive,” he stated.

At the age of 16, Jadav Payeng had experienced that a large number of snakes died due to excessive heat after floods washed them onto the sandbar. He then planted around 20 bamboo seedlings on the sandbar of the Brahmaputra river.

He started working in the forest from 1979 when the Social Forestry division of Assam’s Golaghat district had launched a scheme of tree plantation on 200 hectares of land at Aruna Chapori, situated about five kilometres from Kokilamukh in Jorhat district. He was one of the labourers of the project which was completed after five years.

ALSO READ: ‘Forest Man of India’ described wrongly in text book, Assam CM to write to Maha govt

Conferred Padma Shri in 2015

Jadav Payeng, who was honoured with Padma Shri in 2015, hopes that if the developing countries come forward to take appropriate measures to protect the environment, the balance of nature in the world will be restored.

“All countries should take the initiative keeping in mind the future of the world. I have urged the brand ambassador of UNESCO that the entire world should impose lockdown for seven days every year. If we do this, the balance of the nature will return. I appeal to the people across the world to step up and save our environment. We need to plant trees in each free space,” he stated.

The Forest Man of India has planned to carry an Areca nut and a coconut seedling plant from Assam to Mexico.

Assam forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya congratulated Jadav Payeng for his new mission.

He tweeted, “I extend my heartiest congratulations to extraordinary environmental activist from Assam, Padmashri Jadav Payeng for being invited by Mexico to replenish its forests.”

Jadav Payeng further said that he and few other NGOs had planted around two lakh trees in different parts of the state during the Covid-19 crisis.

ASO READ: Assam objects to Payeng’s portrayal

WATCH: Jadav Payeng: The Man Who Planted an Entire Forest by Himself

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