Shri S. Damodaran, totally devoted his lifetime since 1985 only to promote household toilet facilities to the rural, urban poor, people living in the coastal regions, tribal areas and in town panchayats by closely working with Central Government, State Government, international donor organisations and with CSR initiatives. He has been involved in all the Government total sanitation programs from 1980s to Swachh Bharat Mission Program - 2014 till date.
Born on 12th March 1962, he founded Gramalaya and worked in the water and sanitation sector for more than three and half decades and created role model projects in South India. Under his guidance, more than six lakhs household toilets were promoted through the various Government schemes like CRSP, TSC, NBA, LCS (Low-cost Sanitation cum Scavengers Rehabilitation Program) and SBM Gramin which were sustainable models and working very well till to-day. He formulated three pronged strategy including health empowerment through toilets, safe drinking water and hygiene education and economic empowerment. His work through sustainable sanitation initiatives resulted in women and adolescent girls led a dignified life with privacy, safety and security.
The concept of Open defecation free village was first experimented in Thandavampatti village by Gramalaya in Tiruchirappalli District as First Open Defecation Free village in India where a resolution was passed at the Grama Sabha meeting on 26.1.2003 with 100 percent toilet coverage in all the households in the village including a ban on open defecation. Following this village, he was instrumental in declaring more than 300 villages in the rural areas and 187 slums in Tiruchirappalli City Corporation as ODF including India’s first slum in Kalmandhai in 2002. In 2006, he developed a Centre for Toilet Technology and Training at the Gramalaya Training Centre in a rural area which was later on replicated in more than 100 places in India showcasing different toilet models appropriate to different terrains and socio-economic status of the communities.
The concept of SHG women managed community pay and use toilets was introduced by him in the year 2000 which was still working successfully in Tiruchirappalli City Corporation on a self-sustainable basis. This was acknowledged in the Five Year plan document 2012 to 2017 as Faster, More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth by Government of India as one of role model projects in India. He has designed the SMART Toilet model with bath attached wherein than 60,000 SMART Toilets were built in South India under his leadership. The National Key Resource Centre of Gramalaya approved by Ministry of Jal Shakthi, Government of India, a number of training and orientation program on water and sanitation technologies organised by him including three national-level workshops such as on Appropriate Toilet Technologies, Role of NGOs and CSR in sanitation and Menstrual Hygiene Management India Summit at New Delhi.
The reusable menstrual cloth pads, he has designed and developed 6 years ago has reached the adolescent girls studying in Schools and women in the rural areas. So far more than 5,91,000 reusable cloth pads for menstrual hygiene were promoted by him that has saved our environment, land and our water sources. Through household toilet promotion and hygiene education, he has empowered many women and adolescent girls on economical, social and health aspects in India.