Chennai, Jan 27 : S.Damodaran and his organization ‘Gramalaya’ are names that reverberate in several villages of South India that are now free of open defecation.The villagers consider him as their messiah who has saved them single-handedly from the trauma of open defecation.
Much before the NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi commenced campaigning against open defecation, Damodaran, an M.Com, the first graduate from a family of sculptors in Tamil Nadu’s Maruthur in Tiruchi district, has been into it.
The Central Government has recognized Damodaran with the Padma Shri award for his untiring efforts to end open defecation, forming open defecation-free villages, and educating village girls about menstrual hygiene.
The 59-year-old had opened ‘Gramalaya’ in 1987 and was at first drawn to helping villagers move out of poverty but soon found that open defecation, lack of drinking water, and proper education about hygiene were more important areas.
He developed the first open defecation-free village in Thandavampatty in Tiruchi in 2003, the first such village in the country.
He has already worked towards making 600 villages and 200 slums free of open defecation in South India.
Gramalaya and Damodaran have chipped in to build around 500 toilets in schools across South India and he is being honoured from across the country and abroad for his tireless efforts in ensuring that people don’t defecate in the open.
Damodaran told IANS, “It is a process and I have been into this since 1987 and we have created the first open defecation-free village at Thandavampatty in Tiruchi district of Tamil Nadu in 2003.This is the first such village in the entire country.We have already educated more than 2 lakh girl students in villages across Tamil Nadu and other South Indian states on the importance of menstrual hygiene.”
He is also into providing drinking water to the poor villagers through rainwater harvesting as well as recharging of wells and tanks that were lying unused in the villages of Tamil Nadu.
Damodaran said that he and Gramalaya have increased their focus on creating awareness about menstrual hygiene as well as on the need for nutritious food among the people.
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