World celebrates World Environment Day Today: Story of Rajappan from Kerala should be an inspiration
Saturday 5 June 2021 7:13 AM UTC
By A Staff Reporter
LONDON June 5: World Environment Day is celebrated on the 5th of June every year and is the United Nation’s principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. First held in 1974, it has been a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging environmental issues from marine pollution, human overpopulation, and global warming, to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime.
The theme for World Environment Day 2021 is “Ecosystem Restoration” and will see the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Ecosystem restoration can take many forms: Growing trees, greening cities, rewilding gardens, changing diets or cleaning up rivers and coasts. This is the generation that can make peace with nature.
This week Kerala can be proud for its contribution towards the cause of protecting nature. The story of Rajappan from Kerala has already gone viral on social media. M S Rajappan, a native of Manjadikari in Kottayam district was honoured with Taiwan’s The Supreme master Ching Hai International’s World Protection Award.
He was awarded $10,000 (approximately Rs 730,081) and a citation. The award is for Rajappan’s efforts in clearing the plastic bottles from the Vembanad lake in Kerala.
Rajappan’s dream of owning a boat was also fulfilled by Kerala Scrap Merchants Association who offered a boat with engine. Many Malayalee associations abroad have come forward to offer a helping hand to Rajappan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, earlier this year, had appreciated Rajappan, a differently-abled elderly man for his contribution towards cleanliness even though he wasnt able to walk due to paralysis.
“For the past several years, he rows his boat in the Vembanad lake and clears all the plastic bottles. Imagine how highly he thinks! We must also take inspiration from Rajappan ji and contribute towards cleanliness as far as possible,” he said.
Rajappan started collecting plastic refuse to earn a living by selling them for Rs12 per kilogramme of plastic waste bottles.
However, the service he was doing to the environment was considered as priceless as littering of plastic and waste on the water bodies has been an aggravating environmental hazard.
With both legs paralysed, Rajappan moves around using his hands. But challenging the deformity he rows on a country boat through the Vembanad Lake, which is the largest lake in the state and even the longest one in the country, picks the plastic bottles abandoned mainly by tourists.
At least a sack of plastic bottles was required to weight a couple of kilograms and hence his earning is very meagre.
Rajappan, who is around 70, says that people used to sympathise when he used to enter the boat with his paralysed legs. But he was now used to it as he has been doing it from childhood days.
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