Meet Saalumarada Thimmakka, the active crusader of afforestation
She is called Saalumarada Thimmakka in her village. She got the honour of being named Saalumarada, for the work she has been doing for a long time. The word ‘Saalumarada’ means ‘row of trees’ in Kannada language. Today, she is a renowned environmentalist who held the recognition of being one, who planted and tended 284 banyan trees along a four kilometer stretch of highway. And that is no mean achievement!
It is said that some people are born with an extreme vigour – a vigour that conquers the pain born with an unfulfilled desire. And with great enthusiasm they can reshape a wish too. Saalumarada Thimmakka and her husband are not any different here.
The quest of Saalumarada Thimmakka
Thimmakka is a native of Hulikal Village, Karnataka. She worked as a labourer in a quarry nearby her home and with her cattle herder husband, she had a happy married life. They were content with the meager money they made from their jobs. The poor couple had only one pain to deal with and that was, they had no children of their own. With the hope, that god will rain blessing one day, the couple had waited for many years. But destiny had designed another plan for them. One fine day, Thimmakka’s husband decided to plant trees and nourish those like their own children to overcome the sadness. And that particular thought is the beginning of Saalumarada Thimmakka’s great afforestation project.
They found a road in their neighbouring village Kudur, suitable for their purpose, since the road did not have a single tree and that caused immense hardship for the travellers during summer. Initially they planted ten saplings of banyan tree in the first year and the numbers increased with each passing year. In 1991, Saalumarada Thimmakka’s husband died but the tragedy could not restrict her to carry the project ahead. And it is surprising to learn that today, the asset value of the trees stands at more than 1.5 million rupees.
Awards and recognitions to Saalumarada Thimmakka
Saalumarada Thimmakka has been recognized by many national and international organizations. The prestigious award of National Citizen conferred on her for her selfless work in the field of environment. Along with many other awards she has also been honoured with the titles like Vanamitra, Niargaratna, Vrikshapremi and Vrikshasri. The famous A.U.S environmental organization is named after her and now called Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education.
Saalumarada Thimmakka did not confine her work only to planting trees. She has been raising her voice in other social activities too. Situation and determination turned Thimmakka to a crusader Saalumarada. A crusader, who believes in the philosophy: if you want to fill the void of emptiness then plant a dream and nourish it like your own baby.