Daripalli Ramaiah has transformed Telangana like no government or NGO ever could. Ramaiah has spent his life on making a greener India. This 83-year-old man has planted more than a million trees and he is unstoppable. He is also known as Chetla (trees) Ramaiah and Vanajeevi (forest being) Ramaiah.
Ramaiah was born on 1937 in Reddypally village in Khammam district from Telangana. From his childhood days he was fond of nature and more specifically trees. He believes that nature has bestowed her choicest blessings on us and therefore it is our duty to protect and nurture nature. His efforts have been so enormous that he was awarded the Padmashri, India's third highest civilian honour in 2017.
As a relentless campaigner of social forestry for more than 5 decades, Ramaiah himself cannot recall when it all exactly started. He remembers vaguely that as a child he often saw his mother saving the seeds of vegetable plants for the next Growing season. Ever since he was a child, he has been collecting seeds of native trees such as Sandalwood, Albizia saman, Ficus religiosa, Aegle marmelos, Neolamarckia cadamba and many more in his mission to cover every barren land with trees.
His wife Janamma recalls how locals used to make fun of him for carrying plant saplings and seeds on his bicycle. Be it a marriage, or a birthday, or a wedding anniversary, the couple has made it a habit of gifting saplings. They live in a small two bedroom house in the village. Janamma said,
He used to pedal several kilometres to a barren spot where he would plant saplings and sow seeds. He was confident that the area would turn green some day.
He truly recognises the need to plant trees to save our environment and desperately plants saplings in each and every barren land he passes by. Sometimes he is accompanied by his wife and children from local schools. Though he never had any formal education, Ramaiah in his pursuit has read up umpteen number of books on trees and the process of planting trees. He is considered as a walking encyclopedia on plants.