NEED FOR TREES :
In today’s world of industrialization, we always spend loads of our precious time in sympathetic talks and global debates. Just to discuss conserving trees and creating policies or awareness programs for better sustainability. But, we always forget that ” Little drops of water, Make the mighty ocean “, similarly instead of just blabbering in front of cameras and continuing the same luxurious lifestyle, we must try to take at least a few steps to achieve a big goal. Whereas 106-year-old Saalumarada Thimmakka Vriksha Mata, also known as Aalada Marada Timakka, is an Indian environmentalist from the state of Karnataka. Above all, she has set a great example for the world by planting and tending nearly 8000 trees. Her work has been honored with the National Citizen’s Award of India. Her work was recognized by the Government of India and she was conferred with Padma Shri in 2019.
CHALLENGES IN PAST:
Glancing into her past, Vriksha Mata herself never had a goal to plant so many trees. But this was possible just because she was chosen by nature to do so and of-course her determination… Thimmakka was born in Gubbi Taluk, Tumukuru District in Karnataka. She received no formal education and worked as a casual labourer in a nearby quarry. After she got married to Chikkaiah, a native of Hulikal village, the couple could not have children and it is said that Thimmakka started to plant banyan trees in lieu of children.
Ficus(banyan) trees were aplenty near Thimmakka’s village. Now, this became her part of interest, Thimakka and her husband started grafting saplings from these trees. Ten saplings were grafted in the first year. After that, they were planted along a distance of 5 km near the neighbouring village of Kudoor. 15 saplings were planted in the second year and 20 in the third year. She used her meagre resources for planting these trees. The couple used to carry four pails of water for a distance of four kilometres to water the saplings. In addition, they were also protected from grazing cattle by fencing them with thorny shrubs. In total, 384 trees were planted, and their asset value has been assessed at around 1.5 million rupees. The management of these trees has now been taken over by the Government of Karnataka.
Pictorial depiction of trees planted along a distance of 5 km.
In 2016, she was recognised by BBC "Saalumarada Thimmakka was listed by British Broadcasting Corporation as one of the most influential and inspirational women of the world."
Also in 2017 she was Honored with "She's Divine Award" by I and You Being Together Foundation.
Subsequently, as the time lapsed, she received enormous awards such as Parisara Rathana award, Green champion award, Vriksha Mata award. Today, Thimmakka is invited to many afforestation programs in India. She has also been involved in other social activity like constructing a tank to store rainwater for the annual fair held in her village. She also has a dream of constructing a hospital in her village in remembrance of her husband (who passed away in 1991) and trust has been set up for this purpose.
PADMA SHRI AWARD:
Recently on March 16, 2019 (Saturday), she was invited to Rastrapathi Bhavan to receive Padma Shri. That day her move brought a smile on the faces of the President, Prime Minister and all the guests who burst into rapturous applause for her. Vriksha Mata, dressed in a light green sari, with a smiling face and ‘tripundra’ on her forehead, approached the dais to receive the award from President Ram Nath Kovind. As the President, 33 years younger to Vriksha Mata, asked her to face the camera, the centenarian touched his forehead to bless him.
Vriksha Mata at Rastrapathi Bhavan
In short, this is the story of our 106-year-old environmentalist Vriksha Mata, also known as Aalada Marada Timakka. Do drop in the comments section below, about what do you think about her coming to the limelight.