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Kerala man, lauded by PM, cheated by kin

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala man N.S. Rajappan, who was praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his commitment to environmental protection by cleaning up trash from the Vembanad lake, claims that his sister has taken all of his money.

The 72-year-old, whose legs are paralysed, belongs to Kumarakom. His environmental activism gained traction after local television channels reported his efforts, as well as how he lived on a shoestring budget.

N.S. Rajappan has been paddling his little boat for several years, collecting all of the plastic garbage dumped into the Vembanad lake, including bottles. He earns a living by collecting the garbage and then disposing it. Things improved when Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised him in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address on January 31, saying: ‘He is unable to walk due to paralysis but that has not affected his commitment towards cleanliness. We must also take inspiration from Rajappan Ji and contribute towards cleanliness as much as possible.’

Following PM Modi’s praise, well-wishers began donating money to Rajappan. He and his sister Vilasini created a joint account to accept the contributions of individuals who sympathised with his plight. ‘Recently when I went to the bank with my nephew, I was told Rs 5,08,000 had been withdrawn by my sister Vilasini. They have also taken away two of the small boats that I got. I have filed a complaint with the Kottayam Superintendent of Police,’ said Rajappan.

When the reporters went to Rajappan’s sister’s house to get her side of the story, Vilasini became enraged and sent the reporter away.

A police investigation has been launched into the incident.


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