GUWAHATI: The British deputy high commissioner based in Kolkata, Nick Low, has presented Jadav Payeng the 128th Commonwealth Points of Light Award for his exceptional voluntary service in conserving the environment. The award, which was given to him in the presence of distinguished guests at a reception here, is a personalised certificate signed by the Queen, who is the head of the Commonwealth, and eulogises his efforts to combat climate change in his humble way.
The overjoyed forester said he was honoured by the recognition. “I have to work harder now because the award has increased my responsibility. Please accept my sincere gratitude,” said the 57-year old Payeng, an environment activist, widely known as ‘The Forest Man of India’. His tireless efforts converted a barren sandbar along the Brahmaputra river near Kokilamukh in Jorhat in upper Assam into an 1,360-acre vibrant wildlife haven.
He embarked on his green mission about 40 years ago after noticing that local wildlife was dying because of excessive heat and lack of vegetation on the island. The biodiversity paradise created by him houses the endangered Bengal tiger and vultures, among other wildlife. In 2015, Payeng was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award for his dedication to greening the earth. On the cards, is another initiative to afforest a stretch of 5,000 acre to create a 500 milestretch of flora on Majuli, the world’s biggest riverine island.
Jan Thompson, acting British high commissioner to India, said, “I was delighted to hear that Jadav Payeng, ‘The Forest Man of India’, has won the 128th Commonwealth Points of Light Award for his achievement in creating a forest reserve on the banks of the Brahmaputra river. Jadav’s work is an inspiration to us all at the start of the United Kingdom’s Year of Climate Action.”