A report published in the INSIDE NE states that the forestry worker of Jorhat in Assam has been referred to in the book as the ‘The big story of a small man’ and it also depicts his life and how he turned a barren sandbar on the Brahmaputra into a forest with his 30-year-long unrelenting efforts.
However, the Environmental Science Book refers to him wrongly as a ‘nomadic tribe of Assam’ which re-establishes the fact how “ill-informed” half of mainstream India is vis-à-vis the North East.
Padma Shri Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng is a Mishing tribe environmental activist and forestry worker from Jorhat, India. Over the course of several decades, he planted and tended trees on a sandbar of the river Brahmaputra turning it into a forest reserve.
The forest, called ‘Molai’ forest after him, is located near Kokilamukh in Jorhat, Assam and encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres/550 hectares. In 2015, Payeng was honoured with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India.
‘Molai’ forest today houses Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros and over 100 deer and rabbits. Molai forest is also home to monkeys and several varieties of birds, including a large number of vultures. There are several thousand trees, including valcol, arjun, ejar, goldmohur, etc. Bamboo covers an area of over 300 hectares. A herd of around 100 elephants regularly visits the forest every year and generally stay for around six months. They have given birth to 10 calves in the forest in recent years.