This is a story of a man who was ridiculed by his fellow villagers. They called him mentally unstable and was often made fun for carrying plant saplings and seeds all the time. But now, he is the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri award. This is the story of Ramaiah Daripalli, a resident of Reddipalle village in Khammam district of Telangana.
In a report by Hindustan Times, Ramaiah said, “Planting saplings is not just a hobby for me, but a passion. Wherever I found a spot of barren land in my area, I planted a tree. My objective is to see that every sapling that I plant survives. Even if one plant wilts and dies, I feel as if I have lost my life.” He is also known by other names as ‘Chettu (Tree) Ramaiah’ and ‘Vanajeevi (Forester) Ramaiah’ in Reddipalle village.
Ramaiah used to collect the saplings and seeds and carry it wherever he travelled. He has travelled to various places and planted the seeds and saplings. It is estimated that he has planted more than a million trees all across the area. “I don’t exactly remember the number of trees I have planted over the years. I believe in action and not in just preaching,” he said. Ramaiah claims the number of saplings he planted would have easily crossed 10 million or almost one tree for every third citizen of the state of Telangana.
Padmasri awardee Daripally Ramiah collecting seeds for planting in forests, before monsoon arrives ! ?? pic.twitter.com/RkxMTfbSc0
— SahaJio (@oldhandhyd) June 4, 2018
His house is covered with placards, banners and boards related to environmental conservation. He said that how others made fun of him for carrying saplings everywhere. His wife said that he used to pedal for long distances to plant the saplings. Ramaiah carries a scarf which says “Vriksho Rakshati Rakshitaha” (Save trees and they will save you) whenever he sets out to plant saplings.
Ramaiah and his wife had sold their three-acre land to gather enough to purchase seeds and plant saplings. They have also received a lot of gift saplings. Ramaiah studied only till 10th grade but says he is an avid book reader.
Speaking about receiving the Padma Shri, he told, “My responsibility has gone up with the Padma Shri. I will continue this campaign till my last breath. I will be happy if I am able to inspire at least one crore people so that each of them plants one tree each.” Ramaiah has also several awards from both state and national institutions for his work towards tree plantation. Last year in June, on Telangana formation day, the government awarded him a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.
The government has managed to democratise Padma awards and truly find heroes of the country to honour.