Following the meeting, the Chief Minister called up concerned officials and asked them not to carry on with the road widening project.

107-yr-old activist Thimakka convinces Karnataka CM to not chop trees for road widening
news Environment Monday, June 03, 2019 - 18:43

Intervention by 107-year-old Padma Shri awardee Saalumarada Thimakka may save the fate of hundreds of trees which were at the risk of facing the axe courtesy of a road widening project.

Thimakka met Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara on Monday asking for the Bagepalli-Halaguru road widening project near Bengaluru to be called off. Incidentally, Thimakka had shot to fame for planting and tending to 385 banyan trees along a four-kilometre highway stretch between Kudur and Hudikal in Ramanagara district, a part of the same road in the 1960s.

“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.

Following the meeting, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy called up concerned officials and asked them not to carry on with the project. Instead, he asked them to come up with an alternative alignment to minimise tree felling, the CM’s office said.

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.”

Before winning the Padma Shri, Thimakka had won the Karnataka Rajyotsava award, the Nadoja award by Hampi University, and the National Citizen award by the Government of India, among other national and international accolades. She was also part of the 100 influential and inspirational women list compiled by BBC in 2016.

"Saalumarada" means rows of trees in Kannada. She had taken to planting trees after she and her husband failed to conceive after years of marriage. In an interview to Al Jazeera, she said, "One day we thought why not plant trees and tend to them like we would our children.”



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