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Padma Shri Simon Oraon accorded warm welcome on his arrival at Ranchi

Ranchi, April 16: Padma Shri Laureate tribal activist Simon Oraon received a traditional welcome by the tribals during his arrival in Ranchi on Saturday.

Christian Priests welcomed the Padma Shri awardee. Simon Oroan later visited St. Michale Blind School where he interacted with the children of the school in Ranchi. This 84-year-old man, a Padma Shri awardee, has transformed the lives of thousands of villagers in Jharkhand with his massive tree-planting and water conservation efforts.

Little has changed in Simon Oraonís daily routine in the last 60 years. At 84, he gets up at 4.30 in the morning, goes to the fields, diligently checks the saplings he has planted around the village, takes a round of the forest he has grown all on his own while facing great odds, and traces his steps back to his house in time for lunch.

He has changed the lives of thousands of villagers with a massive tree plantation drive and has organised a well and pond digging initiative to store rainwater as well.

Simon Oraon is a resident of Khaksi Toli village, which comes under Bero block, about 35 kms from Ranchi. He has been working in 51 villages of Bero to protect natural flora for decades and was awarded the Padma Shri recently.
Simonís journey started in 1961 after he dropped out from school to help his parents in the fields.

The monsoon had failed and drought had gripped the hinterland where Simon lived with his family. Water shortage brought desperation and hunger to his land.

The tribals in the area had traditionally always grown a mono crop of paddy (that too with frequent failures) and were oblivious to the harm being done to the environment by the felling of forests. Every year, after sowing paddy, Simonís father and uncle would leave for the city to look for odd jobs. Simon started taking care of his family, as well as the farming work.

He constructed the first dam near his village in Narpatna in 1960. The dam, however, was washed away during the next monsoon.

In the starting phase, several dams failed to withstand the monsoon water. Then, after the water resource department intervened, the size and width of the dams were increased and the concrete strengthened.
These dams have not faced any cracks since.

In addition to constructing dams in Jharia , Narpatna and Kharia, Simon and his team also built dams in Gaighat, Deshbali and a few other locations in nearby villages. All ponds are linked with dams, which act as water reservoirs, ensuring continuous water supply to meet the needs of the villagers.

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