37-year-old Binu is a resident of Gandhinagar colony in Cheruthoni town in Kerala's Idukki district. He lives in a shed, covered with plastic sheets torn at multiple places and an asbestos sheet for a roof, which leaks even during light rainfall. This is the place that Binu calls home.
As heavy rains have returned to wreak havoc in the north and central parts of the state this year, Binu, who lives in this space, no bigger than a cowshed, with his wife Jiji and their two girl children, say that they have been in living in fear for the last four years.
"We bought the land around four years ago when we came to know that the government was building houses for free for people with land. We sold the little jewellery that my wife had and took a loan from many places to buy this land. But the government aid never came. And my family is in debt now," says Binu.
Binu is a daily wage labourer and his two children are studying in Class 1 and Class 3. Even inside his house, the family's belongings have been scattered, as they wait in fear over what could happen to them, and hope that the rains subside.
"When it rains, he won't have any work and I don't go to work because there will be no one to look after the kids when they come home from school. How can we leave them alone in this shed with no safety, in the times that we live in. We haven't had a good night sleep for the past few years. We are constantly in fear when it rains," says 31-year-old Jiji, his wife.
Binu's house is located precariously on top of a hill and the area around the house is prone to landslides. Even on Friday morning, when TNM had visited his house, a landslide had taken place nearby.
The family says that while one person was injured in the incident, it was sheer luck that the shed, which was already in a bad condition, was not destroyed in last year's flood.
Even after the floods last year, they couldn't even get basic relief and aid, they allege.
"They are not getting any aid because they are not part of any political party. There are houses here which had been destroyed but received ample aid from the government as they belonged to the family of party workers," Binu's neighbout Shanthi said, the anger evident in her voice.
There were 3 rain-related deaths reported from Idduki district on Thursday and while around 19 relief camps have been opened and 232 families have been shifted to the camps, Binu says that a relief camp is yet to be opened near his house. Authorities on the other hand, say that a relief camp will be opened in the area shortly.
Binu was shifted to the relief camp last year during the floods, but he says that he had received no government aid as there was nothing to be 'damaged' in their house, with the physical structure of the shed being their only property.
"The media and district administration only come when someone dies. Nobody cares to do anything when the lives of people can be saved," says Shanthi.
While the rain have subsided on Friday afternoon in Cheruthoni, the district administration continues to be on high alert, as the water level in the Idduki reservoir, which is situated just a few km from the town, rose to 2,329 feet.
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department has issued a red warning in nine of the 14 districts in the state on Friday. Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargode have been issued a red warning. Among these, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur are expected to receive extremely heavy rainfall (more than 204.4 mm).
Red warning for 9 Kerala districts on Friday, orange warning for Saturday
When Wayanad's Puthumala faced landslides, neighbours came to the rescue