“This is the land of Idukki and I won’t give up,” says Jose Mathew, who lost his farm, his only source of income, to the floods in Kerala.

Kerala floods He lost his daughter home and farm but this farmer wont give up
news Rains Tuesday, September 11, 2018 - 08:10

The farmers in Idukki are known for their sheer will to survive and their determination to fight adversities and rebuild their lives. Jose Mathew is no different. 

In the year 2006, Jose was sitting with his wife Daisy and 16-year-old daughter Dunitha at their home in Vimala City, near Vellathuval in Idukki, when a landslip destroyed their house. Dunitha was killed in the disaster.  

“We rushed her to hospital but she had died on the spot,” Jose tells TNM, sitting at a tea shop in Kakka city. Jose, his wife and their two sons, who survived the disaster because they were away from home, moved to Kakka city after the landslip. 

Though his home was destroyed, the one acre and 45 cents of farmland that Jose owned in Vimala City was the only thing that remained. “After we lost our daughter and the house, we had shifted to Kakka City. The government had given us four cents of land in another area and we bought six cents of land in Kakka city and built a house,” he shares. 

Spot where Jose's house and farm originally stood

“After we lost our daughter, I found solace in farming. I grew everything on my farm – cocoa, nutmeg, black pepper, mango tree, cashew tree, jack fruits – but mostly it was coconut trees. I had worked hard over the years and the soil had turned fertile again. Now we are back to where we were years ago,” he says. 

However, the landslides caused by the deluge that took place in Kerala last month have destroyed his farm as well. 

You know, after waiting for days for the decision on the opening of the Idukki dam gates, the media left Idukki. It was only later, when the dam shutters opened, that the outside world came to know about the impact of the deluge,” Jose narrates.  

We’ve seen worse, won’t give up 

The 58-year old lost his wife two years ago. He now lives with his two sons on six-cents of land in Kakka city.  

“It is not possible to cultivate in the place where we live as there is only six cents of land. At that time, I had to find money to build the house and hence bought only 6 cents of land. The government had given me Rs 1 lakh to build the house but I am yet to receive the Rs 50,000 compensation announced by the government then. I have applied for that again after collecting details through Right to Information,” he said. 

But Jose is not ready to give up.  

“Let us see what the south-west monsoon has in store for us. I am not young enough to get another chance, but this is the land of Idukki and I won’t give up,” he says.

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