Often mistaken for a rag picker or a rustic, the bicycle man had more diehard fans than any political bigwigs or even the celebrities from the tinsel town.
Pedaling all along the lanes and by-lanes of villages and towns in hunt of barren spaces as part of his sacred mission, the 69-year-old “Vanajeevi” is bigger than a brand today.
The two decades of his crusade paid off with whole of Khammam descending at his door steps in the little known Reddipalli village, less than five kms the district headquarters town thank to congratulate him.
He is the centre stage of public attention and the phone numbers of his kin turned the most busiest with the appreciation messages pouring in torrent.
Daripalli Ramaiah, the potter turned one man green brigade has made it to the national headlines for figuring in the list of Padma Sri awardees sharing the spotlight along with the likes of Virat Kohli and Dipa karmakar.
Ramaiah, contacted over phone on the occasion, attributed his name and fame to the media persons who had taken his message far beyond his tiny hamlet despite the fact that he could seldom find an opportunity to see the world beyond the outskirts of Khammam.
Any public event in Khammam is incomplete without the Ramaiah’s participation. He makes it to the dais and gets duly honoured. Every one retreat at the end, but stays put at the venue even after show ends collecting plastic covers strewn by the crowds.
Familiar to one and all as ‘Vanajeevi,’ he is a man with thousands of trees growing to his credit. He collects the waste plastic covers from refuse boxes with a purpose. He uses them for raising saplings of a wide range of species.
CLICK HERE TO READ IN MALAYALAM
He doubles up his role as a cleaner of the plastic waste at public places. His service selfless and is purely voluntary as he was never found stretching his hands for any kind of help.
All that became part of his pride possession over the years were a bicycle, a few iron rings with the message ‘Vriksho Rakshati Rakshitah’ painted on them and a tiny crowbar used for planting the saplings. He sets out at in the morning with his lunch pail and a minimum of 100 home grown saplings in his basket.
He goes on planting them in school grounds, hospital premises and government offices. By the time the people recognised his service with the first media reports appearing about him some time in 2005, his mission was past a million plants and today he proudly boasts of his fete of over one crore plants grown to his credit.
The man on planting spree never found himself tired except for a fortnight when he had a surgery after brief ailment some seven years ago. But it had no dampening effect on his spirits.
His wife Janamma shows equal commitment to his cause. Both are devoted to the cause of ‘Vriksha koti’ – their avowed goal of planting one crore saplings. The couple genuinely claims to have, already achieved this goal.
The administration has been paying the environmental activist Rs. 1,500 a month to support his mission. The NRI foundation has been paying Rs 5000 a month to support his work, says former ZP chairman Chekuri Kasaiah and Chairman of Guru Dakshina Foundation.
Congratulating Ramaiah on the occasion, he said it is a great honour for his green mission. He deserved more, he said. Former MLA of Madhira Kondabala Koteswara Rao congratulated Ramaiah and wished him long life for the benefit of the planet earth. Bikkasani Damodar , an ardent fan of Vanajeevi said , the Ramaiah had many tree growing to his credit in the parks, public places, guest houses, official quarters, Schools and hospitals of the district.
His mission would be fulfilled only when the government or the forest department endeavors to save every sapling he plans as part of the great mission.