Governments have come, and gone, in the last 15 years but none of them managed to fulfil the dearest wish of Salumarada Thimmakka: a maternity hospital.
Hailing from Hulikal village in Mandya district, Thimmakka has a few hundred children: rows and rows of trees that she planted outside her village and for which she is affectionately called ‘Salumarada Thimmakka’. The term ‘Salumarada means ‘of rows of trees’.
On Sunday, speaking at an event, Thimmakka said that she would take all her awards, numbering around 50, to Vidhan Soudha, and dump the whole lot outside its gates. She said that she was deeply pained that many years had passed since the state government promised to fulfil her wish of a maternity hospital for her region.
For someone who considers the trees she planted as her children, Thimmakka’s demand is all the more poignant.
She told The News Minute on Monday that she made those remarks about returning her awards because she was deeply saddened. She said that it would lower the dignity of the government, and that she would not return the awards. “I was very sad that despite so many years having passed, the hospital is still not built. If it is built then it will be a blessing for the people,” she replied, when asked why she wanted a hospital of all things.
Thimmakka had first requested for a maternity hospital around 15 years ago, and while successive state governments continued to give her awards, they left her request untouched.
When BS Yeddyurappa was the CM, he had sanctioned funds but things made little progress after that, says Umesh, Thimmakka’s adopted son. Subsequently, neither DV Sadananda Gowda nor Jagadish Shettar did much to further the construction. Under the present government too, the situation is the same.
Thimmakka legally adopted Umesh 15 years ago, when he began to look after her. A fellow environmentalist, he too has planted numerous trees. He said that many women in the region deliver babies at home while some go to the hospital.
According to a report in The Hindu, until September 2014, 35 infants died in Mandya district every month from various causes but within two to five days of birth. The number of deaths has not significantly reduced between 2009-10 and 2013-14.