Padma Shri awardee environmentalist, 107-year-old, Saalumarada Thimakka met Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara on Monday and requested them to not chop the trees planted by her between Kudur and Hulikal village. Responding positively to the request, later CM Kumaraswamy confirmed that the Bagepalli-Halaguru road widening project near Bengaluru should go under investigation. He said that the department will be alerted about the issue, and, if necessary, the trees won’t be chopped.

Thimakka’s name made headlines when she took on the deed of planting 385 banyan trees along a four-kilometre highway stretch between Kudur and Hudikal in Ramanagara district, in the 1960s. The green activist nurtured and watered them. The trees are nearly 70 years old and spread across about 4 km stretch. She is popularly known as the Mother of 400 banyan trees.

“I will not allow the trees I have planted to be chopped. I will not allow the government to carry out this project,” the veteran environmentalist told reporters after the meeting, The News Minute reported.

In an attempt to make the surroundings greener, over time, she planted over 8,000 trees, including hundreds of banyan trees.

“There is outrage after news of the tree axing spread. We must not let this happen. A week ago, Thimmakka had called for massive tree planting as monsoon was nearing. But now she is shocked as the trees which were nurtured by her are expected to be removed. Thimmakka is now happy after CM’s assurance but we are demanding to find a permanent solution to safeguard the heritage tree stretch,” said Umesh Vanasiri, the adopted son of Thimmakka, The New Indian Express reported.

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Another green activist and writer from Dharwad, Harshavardhan Sheelvant said, “Legal opinion must be sought to stop the widening work and also save the tree stretch for future generations. What is the use of the Padma award and tree parks in Thimmakka’s name when we are unable to save the trees planted by her?”

Suresh Heblikar, noted environmentalist, praised Thimmakka’s work saying, “Future generations will be inspired by the work of Thimmakka. The stretch where Thimmakka’s trees are present must be protected at any cost.”

In a statement, the Deputy CM said, “It is true that she has protected these trees as her own children. It is our responsibility to protect these trees. We will try and come up with an alternate alignment for road expansion so that the trees which she planted are not harmed.”

“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”

Her name became famous nationally after she blessed President Ram Nath Konvind during the award ceremony, followed by an emotional tweet by President himself in the Kannada language.

“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,” he tweeted.

He also said, “Saalumarada Thimmakka represents the resilience and determination and perseverance of the ordinary Indian citizen, especially of women in our country. May her example, and that of every Padma awardee, inspire our India to greater heights.”

Feature Image Credit: The Huffington Post

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