Sri. Hiradhar Sahoo
Recipient, Shambhavi Puraskar 2020
Hiradhara Sahu, popularly known as Hira Bhai, is an example of grit, determination, and selfless service. An associate member of the institution of engineers (AMIE) from Regional Engineering College, Rourkela, Hira Bhai decided to work towards the upliftment of the tribal people. After completing his education in 1992, he started to teach the poor and underprivileged students in the villages of his home district Deogarh.
It was during this time he found his calling in forest protection and conservation. He started to mobilize people and taught them about the need for forest protection as well as encouraged them to work closely with the Forest department. In 1999, Hira Bhai founded Zilla Jungle Manch - a forum for the people to come together to share their ideas and work towards saving the forests. He worked with the residents of 900 villages who got involved in forest management and bringing back the green covers on degraded forest patches.
His years of hardwork and efforts led to every village in Deogarh having its own village forest. The villagers protect these forests by self-assigning duties periodically. They also plant trees regularly for its regeneration. This has resulted in an area of 15.90 Sq.km of forest receiving protection and conservation successfully. In addition to this, his initiative has led to 6,000 tribal families getting land under the Forest Rights Act which speaks volume about his work.
He has dedicated his life for the people and forests of Deogarh. He has no materialistic possessions and the villagers take care of him as their elder. His honesty has earned him respect with government officials who take his suggestions into consideration as well as comply with his work. In recognizing the outstanding services, perseverance and commitment of Sri Hiradhara Sahu towards forest conservation in the district of Deogarh, the Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation (BIPF) has the proud privilege of conferring upon him the Shambhavi Puraskar 2020.
We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.