Himmat Ram Bhambhu, then 18 years old, would spend most of his time at his ancestral home of Sukhwasi in Rajasthan, watching his grandma plant a Peepal tree. It had reached full size after 14 long years. Himmataram knew he had found his true calling when he witnessed how this tree provides shade and oxygen to the village’s citizens.
At present, some 30 years later, as lakhs of trees across the district of Nagaur stand tall and firm, Himmataram stood in front of India’s President Ram Nath Kovind to receive the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civil accolade, on the 8th of November.
He was recognised for his attempts to offer a secure habitat for birds and wildlife in his district by planting over three lakh trees. He even took out a loan in 1999 to buy 34 bighas of land in his drought-prone town of Harima so that he could plant a tiny forest of 16,000 native trees.
Although Himmataram is an uneducated man who studied till the sixth grade, he became a proficient mechanic after learning tractor maintenance in the early stages of farm mechanisation. He relies on farming to support his family.
Himmatram has been fighting for the environment for years, planting trees in numerous locations around Rajasthan’s deserts. He continues to inspire environmental protection through trees and plants today. Until now, they have produced tens of thousands of trees.
In a state where poaching is common and illicit export of peacocks, blackbucks, chinkaras, and other wildlife is a way of life for many, Himmataram has been at the forefront of efforts to eradicate the problem in his district. Bhambhu still feeds roughly 1000 birds and animals 20 kg of grain per day.
“I initially learned about farming and growing trees from my grandmother Naini Devi, who always maintained there is nothing more moral than planting trees,” he remarked in a chat. It felt like it was only possible because of my grandma’s influence.”
“Without spending any extra money, I have grown roughly 400 rain-fed Khejri and native acacia trees in my six bighas.” Kumt, neem, native plum, gunda, rohidha, khajuria, and jalki are also available. Although planting trees is inexpensive, maintaining them is extremely difficult, according to Himmataram.
Rajiv Gandhi Environmental Protection Award by the Government of Rajasthan
According to some village men, he used to buy saplings from the forest department and deliver them to the people to stay in touch with them. He kept inquiring about the progress of the plants put in order for them to mature into trees. People’s appreciation for animals and birds has grown along with the environment. In addition, Himmataram has been at the forefront of the legal battle against poachers. Out of 28 instances, he was involved in putting 16 poachers behind bars. He fights the cases with his own money and even looks after injured chinkaras and peacocks. He’s also a member of Maneka Gandhi’s People for Animals, and he’s already sentenced 13 poachers to prison. His work has been praised by different institutes and the state and federal governments.
Padmashree Himmat Ram has so far planted thousands of trees. As a result, he received the Rajiv Gandhi Environmental Protection Award in 2014. Not only that, but they are also working to assist the villages that are drug addicts. He has been involved with numerous drug-abuse prevention projects for a long time. ‘Himmat Ke Dhani Himmataram,’ a book about him, was released in Parliament House by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.
His tree selection is also commendable. He chose trees dependent on precipitation because the desert state has traditionally struggled with water scarcity. In Nagaur district, which has 45,000 borewell linkages for farming purposes, the trees have also greatly aided in maintaining the groundwater tables balanced. Trees have been discreetly catching rainwater for decades, according to Himmataram, in a setting where people are turning a blind eye to the overuse of machines to draw water.
Human life is limited to 100 years, according to Himmata Ram, whereas trees can live for hundreds of years. I was inspired to do this work by this notion and the motivation I received from my grandmother. I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished. Hundreds of animals and birds now have a natural habitat to live in, and I could make a modest contribution to environmental preservation.
He has taken up batons on behalf of wild creatures against hunters and poachers, and he is more watchful than the Forest Service in his efforts to save the ecosystem. It’s no surprise that Bhambhu, a local environmental hero, was awarded the ‘People’s Padma.’ Bhambhu was one of 60 people to receive the President’s Padma Shri award for 2020.