Aged Kerala couple advertise kidneys for sale as no govt fund reached them post floods

The couple, Joseph and Alice, say that this was their last resort as they haven’t received a single paisa from the government as flood relief.
Aged Kerala couple advertise kidneys for sale as no govt fund reached them post floods
Aged Kerala couple advertise kidneys for sale as no govt fund reached them post floods

The black writing on the parapet of the house reads, “Eight roomed house destroyed due to floods. Did not receive help as we could not afford bribes. To pay this bribe, we are putting up our kidneys for sale.” After over 5 months of waiting around for flood relief to rebuild their nearly wrecked house in Idukki, 65-year- Alice and 76-year-old Joseph say that this was their last resort.

“My husband wrote this out of sheer anger. We have knocked on several doors, be it the Panchayat, the village officer or the Collectorate, in the last few months. But we have not received even a paisa till now,” Alice tells TNM.

The elderly couple from Vellathooval in Idukki’s Devikulam taluk lost all 8 rooms of their house during the August floods. Their main source of income was the rent they received from leasing out two blocks of the house. But the floods and landslides the state witnessed in August 2018 put an end to this, by nearly wrecking the entire building.

“Before August, two families were staying with us on either side of the house and we were getting Rs 5000 per month. Now, that source of income is gone and it has not come back again,” she adds.

The 25-year-old pink walled house was built by Joseph brick-by brick, Alice recalls. A mason by profession, Joseph extended the house by adding rooms over the years.  Eventually the couple began making their money from the house, until it all vanished overnight.

On August 8, 2018, heavy rains and landslide which continued for three whole days led to most rooms of their house collapsing. The families had by then shifted to a safe location, on top of the St George Jacobite Church in Vellathooval, which they are members of. When they returned nearly a month after the floods, the inside of the house was filled with silt, the ceiling made up of wood and asbestos sheets had collapsed and the floors were broken.

“Our well, which was our only source of drinking water, was filled with mud. Now whatever little water we get from the well we drink. But nobody from the Panchayat has come and cleaned it,” Alice says.

Although the couple knew how badly their house would be affected, it was what came after that nearly broke their will - the total apathy meted out to them by the local Panchayat and the Collectorate. 

Sold my thali to clear the mud from the house 

Post floods, the authorities from the government reviewed the damage to the house and pegged it at 15%. They promised the couple Rs 60,000 - an amount they are yet to receive.

“We needed a place to lie down at least. So we decided to clear out the mud in our house. This cost us nearly Rs 70,000 and I even sold my thali to get it done,” Alice recalls.

Following this, Joseph appealed first to the Panchayat and when they did not respond, knocked on the doors of the Collectorate. “When we asked the panchayat president for the amount, he said that we were not seeing it the right way. We assumed that he was probably asking for a bribe,” Alice adds.

After 5 months of no relief, the couple decided to paint the advertisement on their house. This caught the attention of one of the residents who took a picture and forwarded it to Collectorate.

“Today the collector, MLAs and panchayat members visited our house today. They said they would review the 15% damage level our house was pegged at. The collector even said we would be given Rs 2.5 lakhs to rebuild the house. Until today we didn’t get any money. Today, in an hours time, we were allowed our relief. Where was everyone until now?” Joseph asks. 

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