The Unsung Hero: Jadav Payeng who Planted a Forest and beat all the odds


What a disastrous flood did back in 1978 to a remote village of Aruna Sapoi, this man Jadav Payeng proves to be a gem who converted the eroded sandbar into a real forest after 39 years of rigorous hardship.Jadav Payeng returned to his native home during the summer break of his 10

Jadav Payeng returned to his native home during the summer break of his 10th standard back when he as just 15 -16 years old. Thrashed to see the crumbled natural beauty, snakes looped on the sandbar died due to the natural phenomena without the vegetation and tree cover, his heart broke into pieces.

He took the case by approaching his family and questioning about the severe matter.

Jadav payeng the forest Man of India
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Early Start

Discussing with the villagers, Jadav visited the nearby Deori Community where the former suggested him to plant vegetation and grow trees which will result in a balanced flora and fauna. The villagers gave him about 50 seeds and 25 bamboo plants, the rest, as they say, remains history. Payeng is popularly known as Molai by the villagers which mean forest.

Jadav Payeng’s Success after 39 years

Today, the “Molai’s Kathoni (Molai’s Woods) is an extraordinary inhabitant of 5 Royal Bengal Tigers, a route to 100 elephants, vultures, deer, apes, rhinoceros. With a rich lush biodiversity has evoked a dream of scattered sandbar into a beautiful Molai Sanctuary.

Payeng through his sheer hard work, toiling day and night all throughout the 39 struggling years of his life has today become “The Forest Man of India”. His generous efforts to achieve his dreams and convert the impossible washed outlands into a gorgeous 1560 acres of forest is a true inspiration for everyone.

Threats and Challenges

There were times when the migratory elephants posed a threat to the nearby villagers who in turn were tempted to burn the village down. Payeng dared them to touch the forest as he treats all the trees, animals and the entire sanctuary as his baby.

The villagers therefore approved and ever since, the great establishment of this forest came under the notice of School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University on 22nd April 2012 for his incredible achievement and incessant dedication to support the ecology.

JNU vice-chancellor Sudhir Kumar Sopory named Jadav Payeng as “Forest Man of India”. In the month of October 2013, he was honoured at the Indian Institute of Forest Management during their annual event ‘Coalescence’. (Source)

Padma Shri Award

In 2015, Jadav Peyang was honoured with Padma Shri by the then President of India Pranab Mukherjee, the fourth highest civilian award in India.

jadav peyang padma shri award
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“My childhood friends are engineers and doing well for themselves. They have built elegant homes for their family. However, I am content in my forest that I have cultivated after years of struggle. The recognition and praise I have received is my greatest asset and I am the happiest man in the world” says Payeng.

Personal Life

At the age of 39, after prolonged pleadings from the elders, Payeng married 25 years old Banita and today, they are raising three children: Munmuni who is 16 years old while two boys, Sanjiv 14 and Sanjay 13.

This is not the only battle he fought alone, he travels every day to Kartik Sapori on cycle, rows a boat for 5 km’s and then peddles back again for like half an hour to reach his cow shed. His means of living is dependent on cattle breeding, therefore taking care of cows and their food is yet another aspect he envisions.


Payeng’s success story is indeed inspiring and a milestone for the young to achieve. His resolute dreams firm belief in conquering the impossible stands alone as a feat for generations to come. Payeng followed his heart and never did he lose hope despite the challenges on his way.

At the age of 50, today, he is appreciated for his remarkable contribution to the sustainable ecology and environment. He is the epitome of heroism and gives us all the reasons to follow our passions that drive us insane even with eyes wide open.