About Return to the Jungles
Protecting our environment is not just the government’s job. Padma Shri Jadav “Molai” Payeng proved that by building a forest single handedly on a 550 hectare sandbar in the mighty Brahmaputra. Today this is a thriving biosphere with resident Tigers, Rhinos, Elephants, a large number of birds and many reptiles. And that has inspired me to find barren lands and convert them into thriving forests.
My project is called “Return To The Jungles”. Such a project can play a pivotal role in enhancing India’s biodiversity. And like any project this initiative too requires funds and support. The project will be driven by a NGO which will be formed for this purpose. It will be professionally managed and work under the leadership and guidance of a board comprising of environmental and afforestation experts.
Return to the Jungles is a call to the people of India to return to the lap of nature where civilizations started from. Where is the lap of nature? How far is it from home? And why so many of us don’t seem to have any answers? Because many amongst us have never seen one. They have never experienced the joy of being in nature – so long has been the disconnect from that which is intrinsic and latent to every human being. Instead they have lived and breathed every second of their lives in dirty, polluted cities surrounded by structures that leave no space for nature to prosper. And they have grown up to believe this is what is required for happy lives and healthy societies.
At some stage of our lives; all of us started hearing about global warming, carbon footprint, ecology destruction, habitat destruction, extinction of species, melting of glaciers, melting of the polar ice caps and deforestation. However, most treat these issues as theory and move on. They complain of erratic rainfall, searing summer temperatures and untimely snowfall but still find it hard to believe that the balance of our planet’s ecosystem has been disturbed. Why wouldn’t they? They have either not been exposed to the magnificence of nature or not been sensitized to its absolute centricity in our lives. For them life is about jobs in big corporations, big houses and fast cars. That more and more land should be freed from its delightful natural covers – mountains, hills, forests, freshwater bodies – to make space for global corporations to grow so that they can enhance shareholder value and make the rich richer. There is scant regard for the damage being done to Earth and for the legacy being left behind for the generations to come.
Probably, only a handful of people know that India has been the only home in Earth for all the 4 big cats – Tiger, Lion, Leopard and Cheetah. Alas! The Cheetah was lost in mid – 1850s and the magnificent Asiatic Lion has been relegated to one corner of this big country. The Royal Bengal Tiger is down to a couple of thousands while the gorgeous Leopard is treated almost like vermin. The Tiger and the Leopard are regularly snared, poisoned, run down, poached, electrocuted across India. That is how well we respect the natural bounty that we were blessed with. Again, probably, a handful of people in India know the difference between a Leopard and a Cheetah because their exposure to nature is next to none. And probably, very few even know that once upon a time; we were home to the Asiatic Cheetah. These things remind us all over again just how disconnected people, in general, are from nature.
There is a lot that is being said and written about the rapid decay of nature all around us. Nature is making its displeasure clear to us with vengeance. Still the urge to make resurrection of nature a priority is hardly visible right from the industry captains to politicians to the common public. It is not even a point of debate during the parliamentary elections. The point of awakening is still a distant reality. During the times of Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson; a stroll in the forest was just a few kilometers away from the city. The cover of green was thick all around and the air wonderfully refreshing. Today, the cover of the jungle has receded by thousands of miles from city limits. In the process many major and minor species have gone into history and natural spots have been replaced with lakes frothing with pollutants, ugly human constructions and toxic air. Those that commit crimes against nature have little to fear. Forest fires have become more and more common. The Amazonia – supplier of 20% of the planet’s Oxygen – is burning as I write. Some parties with vested interests have set it on fire. The global media was not even reporting it till the news and images went viral on social media. Such is the extent of degradation of the human mind that it has almost completely forgotten to respect and value that which is essential for life.
We are in the midst of natural disasters in many shapes and forms, but still can we do something to make our contribution to the process of resurrection of nature? Or will we wait for the government to do it all? Unfortunately, there is little time left and too much to do. I don’t know how but I won’t wait any further to take the next steps and ask and encourage one and all to join me in this journey.
So how do we Return to the Jungles? Answer the questions below:
- Do you own a piece of land?
- Can you make a commitment to turn it into an oasis of green?
- How many houses do you need for yourself or for posterity?
- Can you devote the funds instead to buy a piece of land and convert it into a forest even if small?
- Do you own barren land?
- Can you develop it into a forest?
- Can you hand over your barren land to a responsible agency for development of a forest?
- Do you understand the importance of making your contribution to rebuilding this planet?
- Can you be less materialistic and devote some of your funds to afforestation?
- Do you understand that the planet is in a severe problem and that climate change is manifesting in dangerous ways all around us?
- Do you want to help India reduce its carbon footprint by developing more and more forests?
- Do you want to volunteer for conservation projects?
- Do you want to help fund conservation projects starting with a minimum individual contribution of Rs.500 (Five Hundred)?
- If you are a conservation or forestry expert; are you willing to guide people to develop “Sacred Groves”? Please see the section on “Sacred Grove” for details.