A 70-year-old, who was once mocked as “a mentally unstable man”, has suddenly become a celebrity in his village after he was chosen for Padma Shri award this year. Daripalli Ramaiah has planted 10 million saplings in his village Reddipalle, Telangana.
Ramaiah has no record of the saplings he planted, but he says that the number would have crossed 10 million. He has planted trees for every third citizen of the state.
He says,”Planting trees is not just a hobby but a passion for me. Wherever I find a barren land in my area, I plant a tree. The objective is to see that every sapling that I plant survives. If any plant wilts and dies, I feel as if I have lost my life,” as reported by Hindustan Times.
Ramaiah’s wife recalls the old days and says,”Locals used to make fun of him for carrying plants saplings on his bicycles. He used to pedal several kilometres to a barren land where he would plant trees and seeds. He was positive that the area would turn green some day.”
Ramaiah lives in a small two-bedroom house in the village. His house is like a mini museum with placards, billboards and flex banners containing slogans on the importance of tree plantation. Whenever he travels, he puts a board around his neck like a scarf with the slogan: “Vriksho Rakshati Rakshitaha” (Save trees, it will save you).
He says,”I don’t know whether God is pleased with breaking a coconut and offering to him, but I am sure He will be immensely happy if we plant a tree.”
The couple has made it a habit of gifting saplings in a marriage, or a birthday or a wedding anniversary.
Ramaiah has sold off their three-acre land to mobilise money for buying saplings and seeds. He couldn’t continue his studies after class 10, but he is still an avid reader. He preserves the clipping of any article he reads on trees and tree-plantation. He also posts them on boards that adorn the wall of his residence.
Ramaiah has also been conferred with an honorary doctorate by the Academy of Universal Global Peace. He has also been honoured with several various state and national awards.
On the second Telangana Formation Day celebrations on June 2, 2016, the state government rewarded him a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.
He says that his responsibility has increased with the Padma Shri. He will continue the campaign till his last breath and would like to inspire at least one crore people so that each one of them plants one sapling each.
The Logical Indian congratulates Daripalli Ramaiah on his Padma award and hope that more people are inspired to plant trees and make their neighbourhood, town, city, and ultimately the country, green again.