S. M. Raju
S. M. Raju is a senior civil servant presently posted as Principal Secretary, Govt. of Bihar, India. He has introduced innovations in the field of poverty elimination through social forestry at the bottom line of economic pyramid in rural Bihar. He has also integrated the Indian government's rural employment scheme (NREGA) to forest development.
Raju has served the state of Bihar for the last 18 years. He hails from the state of Karnataka is an Agriculture Science graduate.
Raju was born in a village called Sultanpet, Chikkaballapur District (Karnataka, India) on 3 July 1960 in a family of farmers. His father's name is Munilakkappa and as he hails from the village of Sultanpet, he was christened Sultanpet Munilakkappa Raju (S.M.Raju).
Raju's work has led to an increase in environment related consciousness in the government of Bihar, which has earmarked a sum of Rs. 7 billion (Approximately 150 million US dollars) for this project for a period of three years. Rural Bihar underwent an extreme level of depletion of forest cover in the last fifty years, resulting in massive level of drought and flood in the past decades.
His past achievements include the redevelopment of Mahabodhi temple and its precincts in Bodh Gaya as the District Magistrate of Gaya in the late 90s. It is believed that Gautama Buddha received enlightenment there. The project was supported by the Overseas Economic Co-opratiive Fund, Bihar. Through the efforts of Raju, the temple complex received world heritage monument recognition by UNESCO.
Recently, he made a world record by planting 9.6 million plants in a single day with the help of villagers in the state of Bihar, India. The Guinness Book of World Records registered the plantation of 541,176 saplings on a single day on 15 July 2009, in Pakistan. However, the state of Bihar broke the record by planting almost 20 times more trees on a single day, although this has not been included in the book as of December 2009.
In order to achieve this large degree of plantation, he organized three hundred thousand villagers from over seven thousand villages to engage in this mass tree planting ceremony. The objective was to bring about a significant augmentation in the forest cover by an integrated vertical approach while providing a sustainable employment to people at the bottom-line of economic pyramid.
According to the program launched by Raju, villagers would get 100 days of employment in a year simply by planting trees and protecting them. The elderly, handicapped, and widows were given preference.
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