Overcoming all the obstacles caused to the body by paralysis and working for the well being of the society is not a small thing that we can expect in today’s world. 72-year-old N S Rajappan of Kaipuzhamoodu in Kottayam, who lost his ability to walk after being afflicted with polio, never let his disability become a hindrance. And Rajappan’s efforts to keep Vembanad Lake free of plastic waste earned him Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s praise.“It came as a surprise for me when I was told about how PM Narendra Modi mentioned me in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme,” said Rajappan.
“I have seen another news from Kerala, which highlights our responsibilities. There is a differently-abled person, N S Rajappanji, in Kottayam. Though he is unable to walk as he has been paralysed, his commitment towards cleanliness has not been diluted,” Modi said on air. “For the past several years, he has been taking out his country boat to Vembanad Lake and collecting plastic bottles thrown by visitors. Think, how great is Rajappanji’s thinking. Taking a cue from Rajappanji’s deeds, we must also do whatever is possible to maintain cleanliness,” the prime minister said.
The 72-year-old, who lives with his younger brother’s family, was out on his daily round of plastic bottle collection when the news came. “I can’t stand filth,” said Rajappan. He has never let his disability come in the way of keeping his surroundings clean. “I can remember him dragging himself all around the house and even the neighbouring areas, picking up plastic and organic waste and piling it all up in separate heaps,” said Satheesh, Rajappan’s nephew.
According to Rajappan, he began collecting plastic waste from the lake 15 years ago. “It began as a means of earning a livelihood,” he said. “Earlier, I used to go around plucking ‘othalanga’ (Cerbera odollam or ‘suicide fruit’). It was tough work,” he added.