Kuttanad: Gopikuttan, a 65-year-old farmer, was left heartbroken when his house, which holds the fond memories of his late wife, was destroyed in flash floods that wreaked havoc in Kuttanad nearly four months ago.
Following the bund-breach incident that inundated his house, Gopikuttan first moved to the shelters provided by his neighbours, from where he could watch his house, which he built together with his wife with all their life savings. However, he soon left Kainakary village at the insistence of his two daughters, Shari and Sharika.
Gopikuttan has now returned to the island, surrounded by paddy fields. He now lives in a rented house nearby. As he vows, he will spend the rest of his life in Kainakary, with the cherished memories of his deceased wife. He, though, has no idea how he is going to meet the rent and other expenses.
Gopikuttan now has only one dream left: to reconstruct his ruined house with just one room and a kitchen. He does not how he would fulfil his dream given that authorities have barely acted on their promise to allot him new land and a house near his destroyed house, even after the passage of several months.
“I wish to live in that house. Just a single room will do. But it will cost a minimum of Rs 1.5 lakh to first pull down the debris and construct a house with minimum facility. But officials and farmers here tell me that it is not possible, due to the risk of bund breach in the future,” Gopikuttan rues.
Former district collector Haritha V Kumar visited the site on July 10 and promised to rehabilitate him, allotting him new land and a house nearby. But Gopikuttan laments that even that seems like a far-fetched dream now.
“The officials have come here just once after that. I went to the office and was told that the whole process would take two years. I can’t live in my daughters’ houses anymore and want to be here,” he told Onmanorama.
Along with the house, nearly 10 cents of land got washed away in the flash floods. Water gushed in at great force on the night of July 8. The house was completely destroyed. The bund breach occurred in Cherukayal paddy fields, the largest in the region, inundating six other paddy fields nearby and affecting at least 250 families.
The couple managed to raise a small house 15 years ago but faced constant flood threats every monsoon. They then built an upper floor with all their savings. However, his wife died even as the construction work was progressing.
“My wife succumbed to kidney disease on December 4, 2021. I tried my best to save her life and did nine dialysis sessions. However, she breathed her last when we rushed her for another dialysis after her condition worsened. My wife always used to tell me that we won’t need to go to our daughters’ place and that we will stay in this house only,” he said.