Awarded Padma Shri For Planting 8000 Trees In 80 Yrs, 106-Yr-Old Environmentalist ‘Blesses’ President
The Logical Indian Crew Karnataka
March 19th, 2019 / 6:02 PM
Image Credit: The News Minute
On March 16, 2019, of the other Padma Shri awardees, 106-year-old Saalumarada Thimmakka won millions of hearts. Thimmakka, popularly known as ‘Vriksha Mathe’ (mother of trees) was awarded the country’s fourth highest civilian award for her tireless effort to make the planet green. The award ceremony, which was attended by Prime minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other notable dignitaries, who applauded when she blessed the President of India after receiving the award.
Later on, President Ram Nath Kovind took to Twitter to express his gratitude for Saalumarada. In a tweet, he highlighted his encounter with her and said that he is deeply touched with Saalumarada’s work and is happy to be blessed by her. He also said that she is an inspiration for all. After receiving the award, she planted a sapling at the President’s residence, Rashtrapati Bhavan.
At the Padma awards ceremony, it is the President’s privilege to honour India’s best and most deserving. But today I was deeply touched when Saalumarada Thimmakka, an environmentalist from Karnataka, and at 107 the oldest Padma awardee this year, thought it fit to bless me pic.twitter.com/Ihmv9vevJn
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) March 16, 2019
Hailing from Karnataka, Thimmakka has been listed in BBC’s most influential & inspirational 100 women. For planting 8000 trees in 80 years, she became the oldest person to feature in the list. She lives an ordinary life, but she is no ordinary woman. She planted and nurtured 384 banyan trees lined in a five-km stretch some 80km from Bangalore.
Thimmakka was born in Hulikal village and just like any other woman of her village she too worked as a labourer and did not get any formal education. She was married off to a cattle herder named Bekal Chikkayya but the couple could not conceive even after 25 years of their marriage. Instead of cursing their fate, the couple tried to fill the void by planting and tending banyan trees as their own children. Every day they used to carry buckets of water and would travel four kilometers to water the banyan saplings. She lost her husband in 1991, but the tragedy could not deviate her from the selfless work. Lately, she adopted a son named Umesh.
Awards & Work
Saalumarada Thimmakka and her great afforestation project remained unknown until she received the National Citizens Award in 1996. For her achievements, she was conferred with many prestigious awards, such as Nadoja Award, Karnataka Kalpavalli Award, Godfrey Phillip Award and Vishwathama Award. She has also won Karnataka Rajyotsava. Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education, an environmental organization based in the U.S is named after her. Thimmakka has also played an important role in constructing a water tank to store rainwater in her village. She dreams of constructing a hospital.
Though her house is flooded with certificates, cups and garlands, Saalumarada Thimmakka lives in poverty. She says people and organizations honour her with various awards but no one gives her money.
Written by : Debarghya Sil
Edited by : Poorbita Bagchi