Recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri award, Daripalli Ramaiah is known for his invaluable contribution of extending the tree cover. On a mission to bring back the green cover to areas that have lost it, he is reported to have planted more than a crore saplings in and around Khammam district, Telangana, from where he hails.
Ramaiah has been a campaigner for social forestry for more than five decades. His work has seen him receive various awards over the long period of his work, starting from the Seva Award in 1995 to Padma Shri in 2017.
His work has led the 70-year-old, to be known as ‘Chettu (tree) Ramaiah’ or ‘Vanajeevi (Forester) Ramaiah,’ in his village in Reddipalle. Although not formally educated, he is known to have read numerous books on plants. Besides many national and state awards, he was conferred with an honorary doctorate by Academy of Universal Global Peace.
He spearheaded a plantation drive in the district with the help of his wife, Janamma, focusing on trees such as shady trees, fruit bearing and biodiesel plants which have environmental and economic benefits for society.
According to people of his village, Ramaiah planted trees wherever he sees a free space. He carries seeds in his pocket wherever he goes.
‘Of all the species that consider the earth as their home, the most exalted is the human being. He supposedly has intellect, can think, can do and can get things done. Nature has bestowed her choicest blessings on this form of life. Therefore, we have a duty towards Nature. Protect the nature; protect everything created by God, for the posterity,’ he has been quoted to have said.
He collects whatever money he gets from people and uses it to raise more plants. He collects the seeds and raises a nursery of red sanders and give it to people for free.
‘Tree Ramaiah’ has lived a life unlike of those who make politically correct calls of saving nature and planting trees yet do very little to follow up on them. Instead, he has shown through his life exactly what it means to back words with action and help make a better world.