Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hailed the efforts of paralysis-hit N S Rajappan in keeping the scenic Vembanad Lake in Kumarakom city of Kerala clean by fishing out plastic waste from it everyday. In his "Mann Ki Baat" programme, the prime minister lauded the elderly man's commitment towards cleanliness, saying all should emulate him and make contributions wherever possible.
"In Kottayam of Kerala there is an elderly divyang, N S Rajappan Sahab. Due to paralysis, Rajappan is incapable of walking, but this has not affected his commitment to cleanliness," the prime minister said.
Responding to the acknowledgement, Rajappan said, "I feel honoured to have been mentioned by the Prime Minister in his Mann ki Baat address."
A few days ago former United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) chief Erik Solheim had shared a small video on Rajappan collecting plastic waste from the Lake despite his disability and said he should be made famous.
Rajappan says he is making his living by collecting garbage bottles from the lake. (Image: ANI)
Solheim in a tweet on January 14 had praised the fabulous efforts of Rajappan to clean up the backwaters, beauty of which attracts tourists from all across the world.
"Everyday Rajappan gets into his small boat & collect plastic bottles from Vembanad lake in India. All alone. We should make him famous," he had said. In the 20th episode of Mann Ki Baat 2.0', Modi said the news from Kottayam about the divyang elderly person "makes us realise our responsibilities."
Noting that the past several years Rajappan has been rowing his boat into the Vembanad Lake and taking out the plastic bottles thrown into the water body, Modi said, "Think, how great Rajappan ji's thought is! Taking inspiration from Rajappan ji, we too should, wherever possible, make our contribution to cleanliness," he added.
Rajappan, who uses his hands to move around, said he is making his living by collecting garbage bottles from the lake. "I am paralysed below my knees. I can't walk. I ventured into the lake yesterday also to collect plastic bottles. I got four sacks full of waste bottles," he told reporters. He said he had been doing this work for the past 17 years.
"Every day, I manage to climb into the boat and venture out to collect garbage bottles", he said. Asked about his wishes, the elderly person said his house was in a dilapidated condition. "I need a house. My house doesn't have a proper roof," he said.
With PTI inputs