June 20: Padma Shri awardee Jadav Payeng, who is popularly known as the ‘The Forest Man of India‘, is all set to undertake a new mission– to make Mexico greener by replenishing its forests.

In December 2020, Jadav Payeng signed an agreement with an NGO Fundacion Azteca, to collaborate on environmental projects in Mexico aims to plant 7 million trees in the North American country.

62-year-old Jadav Payeng, who is also popularly known as Molai Payeng, got 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.

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


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10-year visa granted to Payeng

The Mexican government has granted a 10-year visa to Jadav Payeng and is slated to travel to the country in September 2021.

The Mexican government has provided me with a 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.

When Jadav Payeng was just 16 years old he 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 in 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 the Jorhat district. He was one of the labourers of the project which was completed after five years.


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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 a lockdown for seven days every year. If we do this, the balance of nature will return. I appeal to 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 an extraordinary environmental activist from Assam, Padmashri Jadav Payeng for being invited by Mexico to replenish its forests.”

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