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Captain Planet: 104-year-old Thimmakka’s Quest from Karnataka to save Mother Earth

Thimmakka received National Citizens Award in 1996 and Godfrey Philips Award in 2006 and the US's Thimmakka's Resources for Environmental Education has been named after her

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Salamarada Thimmakka. Image source: www.mastersconnection.com
  • Born in Hulikal village in Bangalore’s rural area, she was born to a family of labour workers and worked through her childhood instead of acquiring any education
  • And after failing to conceive for 25 years, the couple gave up the desire of a child and decided to raise trees instead
  • With total 384 trees sown as saplings in over 50 years, the sweet reaping is brought to the entire world as a contribution towards afforestation

Not all heroes wear capes, some just have a handful of hope with them and they start doing their bit to change the world. And Thimmakka was one such woman, who was illiterate yet self-taught; she sustained her living and made the state of Karnataka a greener and better place to live in. This story is of Thimmakka, who has grown 384 trees in Karnataka.

Thimmakka, who turned 104, this year in 2016, led a life of poverty. Born in Hulikal village in Bangalore’s rural area, she was born to a family of labour workers and worked through her childhood instead of acquiring any education. Soon she was married to a cattle rearer, Bekal Chikkayya. They earned a little living by cutting stones and by tilling land. And after failing to conceive for 25 years, the couple gave up the desire of a child and decided to raise trees instead, reported IndiaToday.

Thimmakka with the trees she has planted. Source: alchetron.com
Thimmakka with the trees she has planted.
Source: alchetron.com

Thimmakka, along with her husband began sowing Banyan seeds decades ago. Beginning with only ten saplings in the first year at a stretch of 4 kilometres, they increased the number of seedlings each year. The couple not only planted them but also took pains to watered them regularly and protected them from cattle graze.

Thimmakka with one of her recognitions. Source: Wikipedia
Thimmakka with one of her recognitions. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Thimmakka has been conferred with many awards for her environmentalist social work like the National Citizens Award in 1996 and Godfrey Philips Award in 2006. The United State’s Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education has been named after her. And a film has been made on her too. But it is bothering to know that despite all her effort and contribution, Thimmakka has only received awards and certificates over the years, but no money to enhance her work. She also dreams of establishing a hospital, but she lacks funds.

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After Chikkayya’s demise in 1991, the trees he planted continue to flourish even today. With total 384 trees sown as saplings in over 50 years, the sweet reaping is brought to the entire world as a contribution towards afforestation. These trees have been planted from Kudur to Hulikal. The locals of the village call her ‘Saalumurada’, which in Kannada means ‘row of trees.’

– prepared by Chetna Karnani at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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The Flamboyant Plastic Waste Boat Reminds The Global Policy-Makers The Urgency To Address Impact Of Plastics on The World’s Marine Environment

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The plastic waste was melted, shaped and carved by the team of traditional dhow builders exactly as they would do with wood. Pixabay

This flamboyant nine-metre-long dhow, made from 10 tonnes of plastic waste collected from Kenyan beaches and roadsides, sailed more than 500 km from the idyllic island of Lamu to Zanzibar this year with a message to eliminate single-use plastics.

And it also reminds the global policy-makers the urgency to address and lessen the growing impact of plastics on the world’s marine environment.

The Flipflopi dhow was positioned right at the entrance of the conference venue in the UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi where over 4,700 delegates from 170 countries gathered for the week-long UN Environment Assembly, the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.

“Marine plastic litter pollution is already affecting more than 800 marine species through ingestion, entanglement and habitat change,” UN Environment’s coral reef unit head Jerker Tamelander said.

“Waste continues to leak from land and coral reefs are at the receiving end. They also trap a lot of fishing gear as well as plastic lost from aquaculture. With the impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems already significant, the additional threat of plastics must be taken seriously.”

pollution
“Marine plastic litter pollution is already affecting more than 800 marine species through ingestion, entanglement and habitat change,” UN Environment’s coral reef unit head Jerker Tamelander said.
Pixabay

The majority of marine litter – between 60-80 per cent – is composed of plastic.

Only nine per cent of the nine billion tonnes of plastic the world has so far produced has been recycled.

The overwhelming majority of plastics – comprising drinking bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, lids and straws – are designed to be thrown away after a single use, ultimately ending up in landfills and polluting the environment.

“The first leg of the journey is over, but the journey continues,” Kenyan entrepreneur and Flipflopi project leader Dipesh Pabari told reporters here.

“When you are on the boat and you come to know that it’s made from your toothbrushes and Pet bottles. You will ask how and that is the real story,” he said.

Coming from a family of carpenters and dhow builders in Lamu, an island off the North Coast of Kenya, Ali Skanda is intimately familiar with what goes into building a dhow – a sailboat that has been used in East Africa for more than a thousand years.

On its maiden 500-km-long sojourn, supported by the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, the Flipflopi stopped at towns and cities to sensitize the communities on ways to cut down use of single-use plastics.

A report, Plastics and Shallow Water Coral Reefs, released at this UN Environment Assembly, which focus on innovative solutions for environmental challenges, identifies a number of knowledge gaps that must be addressed to strengthen the scientific evidence base for action on marine plastics that impact coral reefs.

Inspired by 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, activist Rebecca Freitag, 26, a UN delegate for sustainable development from Germany, told IANS that the youth should be given participation in environment talks as they comprised 25 per cent of the global population.

Before coming to the UN summit, she collected the plastic waste from roadsides of Kenya, which introduced the world’s toughest laws on single-use plastic bags two years ago, and got her dress stitched to spotlight solutions for the growing impact of plastics on the world’s marine environment.

plastic
“Waste continues to leak from land and coral reefs are at the receiving end. They also trap a lot of fishing gear as well as plastic lost from aquaculture. With the impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems already significant, the additional threat of plastics must be taken seriously.” Pixabay

The Flipflopi is now ready for a voyage next month for a greater political and social awareness of the issue of plastic pollution.

“Now we want to build a 20-m long boat that is capable of sailing to South Africa and beyond,” Pabari said.

For this, $1.5 million is required.

The Flipflopi team has had to pioneer new techniques to craft the dhow’s various components.

Also Read: Biotechnology Can Meet The Growing Energy Needs Of Rural India

The plastic waste was melted, shaped and carved by the team of traditional dhow builders exactly as they would do with wood.

Every single element of the boat has been constructed by hand and the whole boat has been clad in colourful sheets of recycled flipflops.

These flipflops have been collected on beach cleanups on Lamu’s beaches, where they are among the most prolific items found. (IANS)