Saalumarada Thimmakka, the 105 year old environmentalist and dalit activist rejects award given by Siddaramaiah government, says ‘don’t give awards for my caste’!

In a massive blow to Congress appeasement politics, the well know legendary environmentalist Saalumarada Thimakka has rejected the award given to her by the Siddaramaiah government.

Saalumarada Thimmakka is known for her un-paralleled contribution of planting more than 30,000 trees across Karnataka. She is from a small town in Gubbi Taluk, Karnataka who dedicated her entire life in protecting Nature. She was married at an early age to Chikkaiah who was a labourer, unfortunately, the couple could not have children and it was then Thimmakka decided to plant saplings in lieu of children. She and her husband started grafting saplings of Banyan tree and planted it along the roads of Kudoor

The first year they planed 10 saplings, next they planted 15 and the third year they planted around 20 saplings. She spent whatever little money she earned on nurturing the plants and made sure they were watered on daily basis. Within few years, she planted over 384 saplings which turned out to be a massive asset for the state and environment. Today these trees value over  Rs1.5 million. The trees cover a stretch of 4 kilometers for which she got the name ‘Saalumarada’ (row of trees) Thimmakka. Today the entire area has turned out to be a habitat for various birds and animals.

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She continued her work of through out Karnataka for which she received a number of recognition and awards both from National and International forums. She was awarded the National Citizen’s Award of India. An US based environmental organisation named their institute Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education in recognition of her work. She was awarded Nadoja Award By Hampi University- 2010, Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Awards – 1997, Honour Certificate from the Women and Child Welfare Department, Government of Karnataka, Certificate of Appreciation from the Indian Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore, Karnataka Kalpavalli Award – 2000.

She was listed by British Broadcasting Corporation as one of the most influential and inspirational women of the world. Until now, it is said she has planted over 30,000 saplings and continues to inspire youngsters and many environmentalists. She considers the trees as her kids and protects them just like any parent. She says these trees have given her life and they are equivalent to God.

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But sadly despite getting so many awards and recognition, Saalumarada Thimmakka faced huge financial crisis through out her life. No government came forward to help her and even denied giving her nominal maintenance amount. Despite many requests during the Siddaramaiah government no minister took the issue seriously and disregarded her requests. She doesn’t have a house of her own, she has no income and survives on Rs 500 which she gets sometimes from the government.

Just few months back, while she was admitted to the hospital, the Karnataka government did not bother to help her with medication cost and she was left with no money. It was then BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekar visited her n the hospital and extended financial help to Thimmakka.


So, the Siddaramaiah government had literally treated her like a no person despite her enormous contribution to the society. But today, the same government just before elections tried to use Saalumarada Thimmakka for their cheap publicity stunts. They have given an award just because she belongs to a dalit community to woo vote banks.

But Saalumarada Thimmakka out rightly rejected the award writing a strong worded letter to the Chief Minister saying “Do not give me award because I belong to dalit community, I don’t require any government support because of my caste. I know what problems I have faced”, She strongly said I reject any awards based on caste” said Thimmakka.

It was slap in the face of Siddaramaiah who tried to use the legendary women for their dirty politics. Many environmentalists have come forward to support Thimmakka’s stand and slammed the casteist and appeasement politics of Congress government.

One more evidence to show how Siddaramaiah government had neglected her for so many years, was when I had written a personal letter to the PMO and Environment and Forest Ministry, government of India in 2015, requesting them to help Saalumarada Thimmakka get her pension regularly . The PMO had replied and directed the Karnataka government to take the matter seriously. But the state government took no action even after they received letter from PMO.

Here is the PROOF!

Aishwarya S