Every one of us know someone with a green thumb. According to the internet, ‘Having a green thumb’ means a person who loves planting trees and taking care of them. But this word is quite insignificant to describe Daripalli Ramaiah, the man who has planted more than ten million trees in his life! If you go to the Khammam district of Telangana and ask for Daripalli, not many people would be able to identify who he is. But ask for “Chettu (Tree) Ramaiah” or “Vanajeevi (Forester) Ramaiah,” they will be able to guide you quickly to his residence to Reddipalle village, about 15 km from Khammam town in eastern Telangana.
So, what is his story?
Ramaiah used to take plant saplings and seeds with him wherever he used to go. He used to cycle for miles, finding a barren spot to plant the seeds. But his work didn’t end there. He used to see to it that the seed he planted would grow into a strong and sturdy tree.
According to his wife, Janamma Daripalli, he was ridiculed by other villagers when he started this project. He was called mentally unstable and was often made fun of for carrying plant saplings and seeds all the time. But with his determination and the support of his wife he continued with his work, hoping that someday the barren land would turn into a lush green area. He carries a headdress which says “Vriksho Rakshati Rakshitaha” (Save trees and they will save you) whenever he sets out to plant saplings, playfully remarking,
“Am I not as beautiful as Miss World? This is my identity.”
The couple also sold their three-acre plot to gather the necessary funds for buying seeds and saplings. Ramaiah also believes that instead of giving fruits to children, you should give them plants, which can provide not only fruits but also shade and oxygen. The couple has also developed a habit to give plant saplings as gifts at weddings and birthdays.
But this uncrowned king of the nature doesn’t stop here. His two-bedroom house is covered with placards and slogans everywhere, propagating the importance of environment and trees. Although educated only up to 10th grade, he never misses an opportunity to grab a book about trees to learn more about them. He is also developing a seed bank so that he can preserve and grow a variety of trees. He collects seeds every season, takes whatever money anyone can offer for his plants, and uses it to buy more plants. He is not just an environmentalist but also an economist, sociologist, scientist, mathematician and, above all, a Metaphysicist.
He is also the recipient of the Padma Shri award, the fourth highest award for a civilian, for his exemplary and unselfish work. He also received a cash prize of One Lakh from the Government of Telangana.
Unsung heroes like Daripalli Ramaiah are definitely an inspiration to all of us.
So, just one question!
Have you planted a tree yet?