The fertile land also attracted people with little means who gradually settled on the fringes of Molai’s forest. They planted sugarcane, paddy and vegetables; slowly the village at the edge of the forest — Aruna Chapori — swelled to its present size of over 200 families. It even has a primary school now.
As the sandbar transformed into a forest, attracting all manner of small and large animal species, and providing shelter for wandering seeds of herbs, grasses and ferns to take root, Jadav remained its determined caretaker. Even the animals seem to know this since he has never been attacked by any animal.
While the young forest was quickly noticed by poachers, the Forest Department remained completely oblivious of it. The forest was first reported in 2009 by Jitu Kalita working with the Assamese dailyDainik Janmabhoomi. His reports were recently picked up by a national English daily, following which Jadav has begun to receive national and international recognition.
One has to cross two small streams by boat to reach Aruna Chapori from Missing Gaon. A tractor ride there onward takes one to the edge of Molai Kathoni. Trekking into the dense forest is a wondrous experience with Jadav pointing to a tree here, a grass or herb there that is the favourite of one or the other of his animals. In the moist mud, he shows the footprint of an elephant, and his droppings nearby. Reaching a watering hole he peered on the ground to find fresh pugmarks of a tiger! In the middle of the forest is his hut where he sometimes spends the night.
Currently he is planting orchids on the barks of some of his trees. At the edge of the forest the plantation drive continues to cover the remaining sand.
- Planting Forests (lilianausvat.wordpress.com)
- Canada needs to preserve half of boreal forests against industrial pressure (globalnews.ca)
- Nod for cutting 3,000 trees in Kodaikanal upsets naturalists (thehindu.com)
- Responsible Tourism Project Report: Tree Planting with Jadav Payeng in Assam (greenerpasturesind.wordpress.com)