The tiny Village Hulikal on the outskirts of Bengaluru is famous worldwide, all thanks to this humble lady Saalumarada Thimmakka also Aala Marada Thimmakka, an Indian Environmentalist. Saalumarada Thimmakka, who was born in Gubbi taluk, Tumkur district, Karnataka, is known as such because of her work. She intended to end her life at the
age of 40 because she was unable to get pregnant. Together with her husband, she began cultivating banyan trees and discovered a use for them. In the first year, Thimmakka and her husband each began with 10 banyan saplings on either side of the road over a distance of 4 km. Just like their children, they raised the plants. The number of these trees kept growing each year. It was difficult to grow banyan trees in an area that was mostly dry. She and her husband have since cultivated more than 8000 more trees which are worth more than $1,93,250 as per Professor T.M. Das of University of Calcutta.
Due to his lack of resources and access to facilities, Thimmakka was unable to attend school. She was forced to start grazing sheep and cattle at a young age, in addition to working as a coolie. As she grew older, she found a reason to plant trees when she married Sri Bikkala Chikkayya of the Hulikal village. Not only did she plant those trees, but
she also fenced, looked after, and protected them. Even though the trees she grew are now worth several crores of rupees, she still lives in abject poverty.
She is the inspiration behind the Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education organisation, a US environmental group with offices in Los Angeles and Oakland, California. Additionally, an honorary doctorate for Thimmakka was announced by the Central University of Karnataka for 2020. After the death of Thimmakka’s spouse in 1991,
she continued to be passionate about protecting the environment.
Even while one could believe that growing trees is not a huge matter, one can only truly understand how difficult it is unless they try it themselves. For a distance of 4 miles, Thimmakka and her husband used to carry four pails of water to water the seedlings. They planted trees with the scant resources they had. They began to plant the trees during the monsoon in order to provide enough water for them. By doing this, they could collect enough rainwater for the saplings, and by the time the following monsoon arrived, the trees would have undoubtedly taken root. For many years, this became Thimmakka’s daily habit.
Despite Thimmakka’s lack of a formal education, the National Citizen’s Award of India has recognised her contributions to society. She has received recognition from the Indian government and was most recently given the Padma Shri award in 2019, which is the highest civilian honour in the country. Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education is an environmental group with the same name in the United States. Through her extraordinary and extensive environmental efforts, Saalumarada Thimmakka has helped the state of Karnataka gain prominence on a global scale.
SaalumaradaThimmakka maintains her innocence and modesty despite collecting countless honours. Even at the age of over 100, she still holds onto the hope of one day planting more trees. The next task for the lone ranger is to establish a hospital close to Kadur, her community. She has been requesting permission from the local panchayat to build a hospital. A trust has been established to purchase land and build a hospital in an area with limited access to healthcare.
At the Dr. BR Ambedkar Bhavan in Bengaluru, where she celebrated her 111th birthday on June 30, Thimmakka planted plants along a 45-kilometre section of the highway between Hulikal and Kudur, which is being pushed by environmentalists to be designated as a conservation reserve.
2019 saw a project proposed for the enlargement of the Bagepalli-Halaguru road, putting this stretch in jeopardy. But Thimmakka pleaded with the project’s then-chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and his deputy, CM G Parameshwara, to rethink it. After that, the government made the decision to explore for other ways to preserve the trees in Thimmakka.
At the 111th birthday celebration for Thimmakka, chief minister Bommai, housing minister V Sommana, former deputy CM G Parameshwara, and BJP leader Tejaswini Anantakumar were all in attendance. Bommai announced that the government would allot 10 acres close to her home village in Hassan.
On Thimmakka’s birthday, the Karnataka government also gave her a 50 x 80-square-foot site in Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout from the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA). The contributions Thimmakka makes in her ongoing battle against deforestation are very amazing. She has planted trees with a diverse range of species, so her instincts are obviously sound. She is now invited to all of the state’s tree-planting events. Saalumarada Thimmakka has established herself as a global role model because to her accomplishments. She was appointed as Karnataka environment ambassador with a government cabinet rank on July 10,2022.
Her story is particularly significant when you look at sharp decline in green areas since Independence which is around the same time
Thimmakka started her mission. All it takes for a country like India to regain the green glory is to have a Thimmakka. Thimmakka’s foster son, Sri Umesh B.N., is leading this effort to protect the environment. On the mountains and hilltops, as well as around schools, public buildings, and roadways, Umesh has been planting and caring for trees. Additionally, he is effectively leading the PRITHVI BACHAO Movement. He provides plants to farmers who are interested in cultivating them from his own nursery.