Man Who Challenged And Defeated Blazing Drought On Jharkhand’s Behalf

The world is changing every minute, economies are soaring, and metro cities have stopped sleeping. Words like development and growth have taken new meanings. Whether it’s about standing in a queue for train tickets or trying to prove majority in the parliament, we see people prioritizing their desires over their community or environment’s need.

When most turn their back on to important issues the human faces, there are still some who are instilled with genuine humane nature.

Simon Oraon, a resident of Khaksi Toli village of Jharkhand’s Ranchi district, has led nature protection drives for decades. Unlike the rest who blame fate and find other escapist reasons, Simon foresaw and understood importance of water many years ago. Since then he has been preserving water by building reservoirs and planting trees in his locality.

A man of principles even at the age of 84, Simon starts his day at 4.30 am. He takes a walk of results that shows him the fruits of 60 years of hardwork. His efforts include massive tree plantation drives, along with digging wells and ponds to store rainwater.

Can’t accept reality? Change it!

At the age of 9, Simon dropped out of school to help his parents in the fields. Unfortunately, drought that year destroyed all their crops and slapped them with insatiable thirst and hunger. The situation turned grimmer by the day as poverty and death shrouded their village.

Growing up in this vicious cycle, there were times when he had to take care of his family in absence of his father and uncle who wandered looking for odd jobs.

But rather than accepting the sad reality, Simon stepped forward to make a change.

“As a child, I had seen trees in my village being cut and transported in huge trucks. Initially, I was fascinated by these huge machines. But when a severe drought hit us in 1961, I realized how harmful deforestation was,” Simon told.

Astonishing humility and dedication

He was the one to initiate and launch several projects in Jharkhand which included building dams, water reservoirs, and setting up rain-water harvesting systems to alleviate water scarcity in the arid region. It was because of his efforts and water management tricks that more than 50 villages were able to bring back life to their parched, dehydrated forests.

There is no first person reference in his speeches, it is always about ‘we’.  ?

His exemplary contribution to nature has brought him appreciation from all corners of the society. Fondly addressed as Waterman of Jharkhand, Simon humbly attributes all his success to forest Gods and his people. His dedication and belief in team efforts are evident even in the way he speaks.

“It is because of blessings of the forest Gods that more than 1,600 families here reap three cops besides paddy every year,” he says on his contribution.

Big feats of a titchy man

In 2016, Simon was honoured with Padma Shri for his social work for the environment in Bihar. Later, he was appointed the ambassador of the Watershed Programme — a plan that aims at conservation and regeneration of natural resources.

“All I have achieved is due to the support of the community. How can I take the award alone? It’s a Padma Shree for all those who made my mission succeed,” he said after receiving the state honour.

Simon’s love and initiatives for mother nature definitely has roots in his culture and upbringing but it was his innate belief that has changed thousands of life. His tactics have brought a revolution and has encouraged people to take care of environment that nurtures them.

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