Bangalore: Salumarada Thimakka, the green crusader, believes that the government should bring in a rule to have children in schools plant trees, water them every day and see them grow. “It’s a joy. The child should be nurtured to think green, and see the birds and shade around trees,” says Thimakka, a native of Hulikal village in Magadi taluk of Ramanagar district.
“When I planted hundreds of trees on the Bangalore-Nelamangala highway along with my husband Chikkaiah and looked after them like children, as we were childless, it was a selfless endeavour,” she said at the Kannada and Culture Department’s ‘Maneyangaladalli Maatu Kate’ programme where she was the chief guest.
Thimakka reminisced about her nearly six-decade tree-planting efforts that brought her “sheer joy”.
“Every year, the tree and the shade grew larger on the four kilometre stretch. I had the strength to nurture and see my green children mature into gigantic trees on either side of the highway. But today, when I am in dire need of money, can’t the government help me, apart from giving me Rs. 400 as monthly pension,” she asked.
Thimakka recollected how she walked three kilometres with her husband from her home in Huligal every day to the highway along which they had planted trees. They not only planted banyan twigs all along but watered them by carrying pitchers on their waist and head. “My 484 banyan trees are worth 484 crores, say government sources. At least, they can build a maternity home near my village for the benefit of women living in the vicinity,” she says.
Thimakka says, for the last 26 years since her husband passed away she has been struggling for money. “Am I not entitled to a house and land from the government? I am grateful to all the honours and recognitions pouring on me, but I have had to spend one-and-a-half-lakh rupees for showcasing and preserving my umpteen medals.”
Last month, when she was hospitalised, well-wishers offered to take care of her expenses. Then, the Kannada and Culture Department stepped in and offered to take charge of the expenses. However, the hospital waived off the charges.