This 70-year-old Padma Shri Awardee from Rural India Sold His Plot to Plant 1 Crore Saplings
If little drops of water can make an ocean, an ordinary man from a humble background can do something very extraordinary beyond our imagination. A 70-year-old man from Telangana has been planting saplings to replenish greenery and save the environment for several decades.
He used to be laughed at for carrying seeds in his pockets and live in the wilderness without recognition for what he was doing until the Indian government recognized his selfless contribution to afforestation and awarded him Padma Shri this year. He is believed to have planted over one crore saplings in different parts of Telangana. It means that he planted one tree for every three citizens of the state.
Ramaiah Daripalli, a resident of Khammam district in the state of Telangana, is one of the few who believe in action, not preaching. He carries seeds and saplings whenever he travels long distances and goes out on errands in day-to-day life. He stops wherever he finds a patch of barren land to sow seeds and plant saplings with care.
Initially, people made fun of Ramaiah Daripalli for such an insane drive of reforestation. Then they started referring to him as Chettu meaning tree and Vanajeevi meaning forester. The outside of his small house is covered with placards, boards and banners with slogans for environmental conservation and reforestation. When he goes out, he covers his head in a scarf with the message, “Save trees and they will save you.”
He is such an ardent lover and saviour of environment that he sold his 3-acre plot of land to purchase seeds and saplings. Not just that they also gift saplings to their neighbours, friends and relatives on their birthdays and anniversaries, instead of material things.
Though he could not study after the 10th grade, he didn’t give up his habit of reading. He collects clippings of articles and news on environment from newspapers even at the age of 70. The clippings find space on boards, banners and the walls of his house. Moreover, the names of his granddaughters – Chandanapushpa, Vanasri and Haritha Lavanya – are inspired by his unconditional love for nature.
The Academy of Universal Global Peace conferred an honorary doctorate on Ramaiah Daripalli in recognition of his relentless contribution to reforestation. The state government of Telangana awarded him a cash prize of one lakh rupees during the celebration of the second Telangana Formation Day. The Andhra Pradesh Forest Academy recognized him as “Green Warrior” on the Earthy Day in 2012.
Though he underwent a cardiovascular surgery in 2015, his tempo to promote greenery, save environment and plant samplings has not slowed down. Ramaiah Daripalli says that he will continue his crusade for reforestation and environment conservation.