A 105-year-old environmentalist from Karnataka has earned a place on the list of the 100 most influential and inspirational women in 2016 by the BBC. Saalumarada Thimmakka is known for growing around 400 banyan trees on a 4km-long stretch between Hulikal and Kudur and is still taking good care of them.
Thimmakka was born into a poor family in Gubbi in Tumakuru district and never got to attend school. She even started working as a coolie at the tender age of 10. After a few years, she was married off to a man named Bekal Chikkayya from Ramanagar district.
"She had no respite from poverty and a series of difficult situations followed her in that phase of her life too. Unfortunately, the couple remained childless even after many years of their marriage. Disappointed and pained because of this childless life, both of them started to treat trees as their own children," according to the Thimmakka Foundation website. She has planted over 8,000 trees during the course of 80 years, reports the BBC.
"One day we thought why not plant trees and tend to them like we would our children," Thimmakka told Aljazeera in a 2013 interview. Unfortunately her husband died a few years later. The centenarian has won several awards for her service to society like the National Citizens Award (1996) and the Godfrey Phillips Award (2006). In 2015, she declared that she would return all the awards that she had received after her demands for a maternity clinic to be set up in her village in Magadi taluk were not met....