World Environment Day is observed on the fifth day of June every year. Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz marked the day by inviting some of the most passionate environmentalists and environment activists to share personal stories of change-making and to highlight the importance of the day.
One of our guests was Dr. Umesh B N, who is the adoptive son of the awe-inspiring Vrikshamate Saalumarada Thimakka. Walking in her footsteps, he is also a passionate environmentalist today and is working towards achieving his grand ambition of planting 1 crore trees in his lifetime.
“When I was in the 7th standard, I read a newspaper article about Saalumarada Thimakka. It showed her standing among trees and I got curious. When I was told about her journey, I too was inspired, and I started planting 10 trees every year in my village of Hulikal. My ultimate dream then was to meet her, and I did!
Some years ago, she had taken seriously ill but there was no one to care for her. I stayed on and looked after her like a son would. After recovering, she went to my parents and asked their permission to formally adopt me and they happily obliged!
I have vowed to plant at least one tree a day, and this year’s target is to give away 50,000 to 1 lakh free saplings for people to plant. The target for this June-July is planting 10,000 trees. Till date, Vanasiri (NGO) has given out 20 lakh saplings to people.
When it rains, trees fall or get cut down. As replacements, the authorities plant newer trees – like the silver oak tree, gulmohar, mayflower, nilgiri – but none of these trees are useful in nourishing the soil, or in summoning rains. On the other hand, trees like Hongemara (Indian Beech), Nerde Mara (Jamun), Mango Tree, Atti Mara (Fig), and Banyan Tree provide multiple benefits to the surroundings, plus these trees’ roots don’t invade buildings’ walls either.
In India, we used to consider nature as being equivalent to God, but now, we have to be told by other countries to take care of the environment. This is embarrassing and tragic.”
Written by Shruti Sharada.